FOXBORO -- Who would have thought the most noise was made after New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady left the field?
Rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham came in as Brady’s backup on Thursday night as the Patriots hosted the Carolina Panthers at Gillette Stadium. It was Stidham, not the anticipated second-string incumbent Brian Hoyer who took the field as the No. 2.
Stidham did not know that would be the case going into the game, and coach Bill Belichick simply said the Patriots did what was best for the football team. Stidham made the most of it. He completed 15 of his 19 passes for 134 yards. It was the lone game this preseason that Stidham did not throw a touchdown pass, but he did orchestrate a 10-play, 70-yard drive to give the Patriots a one-score lead after a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski.
“I’m just, my thing is just to always try and be ready,” Stidham said. “And whenever my number is called, just go out there and try and help the team as much as I can.”
Stidham hit receiver Gunner Olszewski on the first play of the drive for 15 yards. Stidham then hit Damoun Patterson for a gain of 17 yards, and then found tight end Lance Kendricks for 11 yards on the next play. Stidham then completed two passes to Ryan Davis, each for four yards each to set up Gostkowski’s 23-yard kick.
Jakobi Meyers finished with seven receptions for 74 yards in the game. Every reception was from Stidham, while quarterback Tom Brady and Meyers did not connect through the first three drives.
“He’s a heck of a person, heck of a player and, you know, he’s been doing a great job,” Stidham said of Meyers, who was a standout in his own right yet again for the Patriots. Through three preseason games, Meyers has 19 catches for 225 yards.
“You know, my job is really easy when I can just get the ball in his hands and let him do his thing and let him make plays,” Stidham said.
Stidham has been impressive thus far in the preseason. He is 43-for-62 for 505 yards and two touchdowns. And even more than those numbers suggest, his poise in the pocket looks far beyond his years. Still, he’s only focused on what’s next.
“There’s a lot of plays I know I can learn from and try to hopefully not make the same mistake again,” Stidham said. “I mean, I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. This is third game and I’m really looking forward to getting better, continuing to learn from Josh (McDaniels), Tom (Brady) and Brian (Hoyer), taking it in as much as possible.”