Sunday 7: Unusual offseason can be both positive and negative for Jarrett Stidham

By WEEI 93.7

1. There’s no question this offseason hasn’t been ideal for Jarrett Stidham and the Patriots offense as it begins life without Tom Brady. The group, even just Josh McDaniels and Stidham, haven’t been able to meet at the Gillette Stadium facility as everything has been done virtually due to COVID-19. Sure, Stidham has got a few of his pass-catchers together for some private workouts, which is good, but they were competing against air and without all 11 players on offense. It’s hard to say the offense is at the same point it would be right now if it were a normal offseason with OTAs, minicamps, etc. On top of that, there were reports this week the league potentially could take away two preseason games. With no joint practices either, this is taking away even more reps for Stidham and the offense before the regular season begins on Sept. 13. With all that being said, one silver-lining is there may not be as much pressure on Stidham the first few weeks because there’s the built-in excuse of a strange offseason where he wasn’t able to get all the necessary work in. The first few weeks will be viewed as an extension of the preseason, not only by the Patriots, but likely the entire league. While it isn’t a huge positive, it’s at least something.

2. In the times that we’re in — the start of the true NFL offseason and no sports — some unique debates have been surfaced, including this week where some debated whether the Patriots offense will be better without Brady. It is absolute nonsense. Could a few of the younger receivers like N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers benefit? Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean the entire offense will be better. The Patriots will be relying heavily on their running game and it’s hard to imagine an offense like that finishing higher than seventh in points scored and 15th overall like it was in 2019.

3. Speaking of the running game, ESPN’s Mike Reiss reported Sony Michel is recovering from offseason ankle surgery, but it was described as “maintenance-based” to help with some pain he’s experienced. As of now it is unclear if he will be ready for the start of training camp or start the year on PUP for a second straight summer. And on top of that, as a rookie Michel missed most of training camp following getting his knee drained. The Patriots need Michel on the field as much as possible this summer as he will be a major part of the offense and the team needs him more than ever. 

4. Be sure to checkout Stephon Gilmore’s appearance on “NFL Game Pass Film Session” where he broke down a number of games from last season with Brian Baldinger and Kurt Warner. It gives some great insight into Gilmore’s mentality and just how hard he works. Game pass is free until the end of July and it aired on NFL Network Saturday night. Deshaun Watson was already featured and then some other players coming include Amari Cooper, Dalvin Cook, Ryan Tannehill, Tre’Davious White and Devante Adams. 

5. Bill Belichick’s comments when praising Devin McCourty for being named the Boston Uncornered “2020 Champion of the Year” really stood out this week. Belichick called McCourty “the ultimate role model” and spoke more about his actions off the field than on the field, including how much of an impact he’s made on the organization. McCourty has turned into one of Belichick’s best draft picks, not only from his contributions on the field, but the way he’s been able to represent the Patriots organization off it.

6. After playing sparingly as a rookie, this could be a year for Joejuan Williams to see the field more and actually contribute on a game-to-game basis. It’s been reported he’s spent some time in the safteies meetings this offseason in addition to cornerbacks. Speaking to, Williams acknowledged how much he was able to take in as a rookie. "Overall my rookie year was a big learning year for me," Williams said. "I didn't play much at the beginning of the season and I started getting into the rotation on defense and special teams the last few games. That's when I got most of my snaps. But it also gave me a chance to look up to the guys in front of me, watching them and following them was very helpful. Slowly but surely each week you try to build, and you keep doing that and building on top of that and I would try to get one percent better. It was a big learning curve and I'm still learning now."

7. Training camp officially begins in roughly six weeks for NFL teams and things seem to be trending towards it being a reality. NFL teams were sent guidelines this week with safety protocols and this gives teams plenty of time to figure all of them out and make it work. This will be easier said than done — like having lockers for 90 players spaced at least six feet apart — but teams have over six weeks to get it done. This will certainly be a unique season, but everything that has happened with the league in recent weeks trends towards it actually happening.