Former Patriot Rob Ninkovich Drops Surprise Pick for New England’s Week 1 Starting QB

Jarrett Stidham, Josh McDaniels, Brian Hoyer

New England Patriots quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels | Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

For the first time in a long, long time, the New England Patriots have a question to answer at the quarterback position. All-time NFL legend Tom Brady has taken his talents to Tampa, leaving veteran Brian Hoyer and rising second-year man Jarrett Stidham to fight for the starting job.

Though Stidham has gotten most of the attention so far, former Patriot Rob Ninkovich has offered his position on the debate, and it’s not the one most were surely expecting.

Ninkovich places his bet on Hoyer. “I think Brian Hoyer will be the starter Week 1, and I say that because the quarterback position is one of the most important for reps under center, seeing defensive looks, looking at coverage, understanding the offense,” he said on ESPN’s “Get Up.”

The COVID-19 crisis and its impact on preparation for the NFL season have only magnified that belief for Ninkovich, as Stidham has been unable to hone the experience needed to start the season for Bill Belichick’s team. “When you’re a second-year player, you really don’t realize what a season’s like as a starter,” Ninkovich said. “You don’t understand what it’s going to take, and not having an offseason does not help. So, Brian Hoyer will be the starter Week 1.”

Despite Ninkovich’s comments, Rex Burkhead, a current member of the Pats, has a different viewpoint. Speaking to Boston’s WEEI sports radio, Burkhead said hee was “[v]ery impressed” with Stidham despite his limited experience, and is looking forward to a new age of football in New England.

With two opposing options — and Cam Newton still hanging around in free agency — there may be more shoes to drop before it’s remotely clear who Bill Belichick’s QB1 is going to be. After all, even if Hoyer starts week 1, it is quite likely that Stidham will be the quarterback of the future in Foxborough.

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