There has been much said and lamented about where the Pats are Post-Brady and how bad the team will be this coming season, and maybe even for years to come. Some talking about Tanking for Trevor, or become try-hards that fail. I dont even necessarily mean on this board. Its almost consensus in the media that the Pats have one of the weakest rosters in the league. I dont see it. At all. I think four fundamental reasons why I believe BB has set young Stidham up for success. I will focus on one of those, as I think its the only one worth teasing out a bit. 1. Coaching Continuity is king. 2. Roster continuity is queen 3. returning every single starter on offense, with expected improvements from health and age from most 4. We still have one of the best defenses in the entire NFL So, we can go back and forth on the first 3, but I think they are fairly standard assessments of our roster and other successful teams. The 4th point is seemingly being brushed aside as either something that people expect to fall apart, or that it wont be enough to prop young Stidham up. So, I did some digging. Lets say, for argument sake, that the Pats defense can, in fact, continue playing at an upper echelon level. Lets say, for argument, they are a top 5 defense in the entire NFL. How many are squaking at that thought? I understand we lost some great pieces in Van Noy, Collins and Harmon, but with the pieces that were already on the roster, I dont think its a reach to believe that they can maintain a very strong, and possibly elite unit. Maybe not tops in the league as we were last year, but still among the best. Why does that matter? Well, a great deal apparently. This is a list of every QB in his 1st or 2nd season over the past 12 years that were supported by a defense that was ranked in the top 5, according to Football Outsiders. I will list the teams rank, the qb and their invidiual record as starter of the team, as well as their completion percentage 2019: Pittsburgh Steelers 3rd Mason Rudolph 5-3 62% Devlin Hodges 3-3 62% Baltimore 4th Lamar Jackson 13-2 66% 2018 Chicago 1st Trubisky 11-3 59% Buffalo 2nd Josh Allen 5-6 52% Baltimore 3rd Lamar Jackson 6-1 58% 2017 Philadelphia 5th Carson Wentz 11-2 60% 2016 Denver Broncos 1st Trevor Siemien 8-6 59% Paxton Lynch 1-1 59% Philadelphia 5th Carson Wentz 7-9 62% 2013 Seattle 1st Russell Wilson 13-3 63% 2012 Seattle 2nd Russell Wilson 11-5 64% San Fran 3rd Colin Kaepnernick 5-2 62% 2011 Jacksonville 5th Blaine Gabbert 4-10 50% 2010 New York Jets 5th Mark Sanchez 11-5 54% 2009 New York Jets 1st Mark Sanchez 8-7 53% So, you get quite a bit of information here. 1. Great defenses could help even the most helpless qbs win some games. Blaine Gabbert completed 50% of his passes and still won 4 games. Mitch Trubisky went 11-3! Trevor Siemien went 8-6 and was never heard from again. of those 14 teams, only 3 had a losing record, and 8 made the playoffs. Of those 11 separate players, only 3 ended up as franchise QBs. So if your concern is that Stidham isnt the guy, or cant possibly have it because hes not Tom Brady, you are most likely right. But, surrounding him with a defense that will give him the best possible chance to win games will allow us to see what his ceiling truly is. I am a Stidham believer longterm for a lot of reasons, but having Gilmore, Hightower, Jackson, Wino, Guy and Chung are why I believe Stidham wont be leading us in to the tank this year. The only way I see the floor fall out on this team is if we run in to some terrible health luck. Its possible obviously, especially with an older group. But with the depth we have across the board, Id be surprised if it was enough to submarine the whole season. So, if you ever find yourself thinking Stidham cant possibly get us to the playoffs and we are destined for failure, remind yourself that Rex Ryan coached a worse defensive team with Mark Sanchez at QB to the AFC championship game. Maybe that will help you cheer up.