Former Auburn football star in NFL QB1 role deemed not terrible, but not great

A former Auburn football star thrust into an NFL QB1 role was deemed not terrible, but not great by one analyst.

Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos
Los Angeles Chargers v Denver Broncos / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages
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Former Auburn football star gunslinger Jarrett Stidham -- who was thrust into the Denver Broncos' QB1 role after Sean Payton benched Russell Wilson -- had his Mile High debut under center against the Los Angeles Chargers on New Year's Eve 2023/2024 deemed not terrible, but not great by Denver Sports' Jake Shapiro.

"This game was all about Stidham," Shapiro prefaced before saying, "This week was full of controversy, but benching Wilson was something Payton had been considering for some time. He liked what he saw from Stidham last year when he started two games for the Raiders, and that’s why he signed him this offseason.

"Stidham has the full confidence of his head coach, but fans were anxious to see what the combination looked like on the football field. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great. I thought Payton would flex his muscles offensively with the passing game now that Wilson was on the bench. He set it up, but Stidham did not knock it down."

For what it's worth, Payton spoke highly of Stidham's 20/32, 224-passing-yard, one-touchdown performance on December 31.

"I thought he was good," Payton said. "I thought he was collected, calm. I thought he played with really good poise. He felt experienced relative to a guy who hasn’t had as many minutes maybe as some others. You certainly didn’t feel that during the course of the game. I thought he was efficient in and out of the huddle. I thought he made some good throws for us overall until I see the tape. I thought it went pretty good."

NFL exec thinks Sean Payton will regret benching Russell Wilson for former Auburn football star

An unnamed NFL executive told The Athletic's Mike Sando (subscription required) that Payton could regret benching Wilson in the manner he did.

"Fifteen years ago, the quarterback would sit quiet and try to get on another team," the executive said. "When you mistreat a guy like Wilson, that ain't going to happen. I think Sean messed with the wrong guy because (Wilson) told the story."

Stidham is the one man who can ensure Payton has no regrets about his blockbuster midseason QB switch.