Add special-teams stalwart Matthew Slater to the list of Patriots veterans who believe in second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham.
In a Monday media availability, the most tenured member of the Patriots offered praise for Stidham’s ability to take over for Tom Brady.
“Brother Stid is a great kid, and I think that’s the thing that is going to matter the most with any player — who is he as a man, who is he as a person, what’s he motivated by?” Slater said, via comments distributed by the team. “He’s just a great kid to be around. He brings a lot of positive energy, he’s always got a smile on his face, and you can tell he’s very appreciative of the opportunity that he had last year and the opportunity that he’ll have going forward. So, certainly he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position.
“Coach Belichick and his staff wouldn’t have brought him in here if they didn’t think he had those qualities. I think at that position, almost more than any other, it’s going to be the intangibles that get a guy to maybe a successful position. So, I think he’s got some good traits. I think he’s going to be a good player. His attack, his approach is going to have to be one day at a time, just like any of us. I think it’s important, and I’ll certainly encourage him, just to be himself — be himself, continue to be the person that he is, continue to be the teammate that he is, and we’ll just take this thing one day at a time.”
It’s odd to see the likes of Slater and Devin McCourty and Stephon Gilmore throwing so many bouquets in the direction of the 2019 fourth-round draft pick who threw four passes as a rookie, with two completions, one interception, and an 18.8 passer rating.
It’s a decidedly non-Patriot Way; Belichick routinely takes to task players who praise teammates publicly, arguing that it’s not their jobs to comment on the abilities or performance of anyone but themselves. Maybe Belichick is making an exception at a time when Patriots fans wonder whether the NFL’s best franchise of the past 20 years makes a transition from one guy who took over in the second year of his career to another.
Regardless, key members of the roster believe in Stidham. In large part because they sense that the coaching staff does. Eventually, we’ll find out whether that faith is justified.