You can’t measure it in the combine. It doesn’t show up in the stat sheet. But it’s a big thing, maybe the biggest, that coaches look for in players.
Many criticized the New England Patriots for not having enough of it last season when they were trounced by the Baltimore Ravens in the first weekend of the playoffs, even though the Pats were AFC East champions and the home team.
One Patriot has it though. That guy is Tom Brady’s understudy, Brian Hoyer.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the possibility of the Patriots selecting quarterback Tim Tebow, one of the most decorated college players in the history of the game, in the upcoming draft.
With Brady firmly entrenched as the starter, a Tebow arrival could put the less-known Hoyer in a difficult predicament.
What does he have to say about the situation?
“Bring him, let’s go,” he told reporters after an offseason conditioning workout Thursday. “He’d be great to compete with.”
Tebow could take his job away, but Hoyer is welcoming the addition?
It seems strange but if you took notice of what Hoyer did last year, you’d know his fight was his greatest asset.
Hoyer, coming out of Michigan State, was invited to the NFL Combine last season, yet went undrafted. The Patriots saw something they liked though and signed him to a contract.
Hoyer arrived at Patriots training camp with three other quarterbacks vying to be Brady’s backup. The spot was an extremely important one with Brady coming back from a knee injury and his health and form both in question.
Former third-round pick Kevin O’Connell was waived. Matt Gutierrez was cut. Veteran Andrew Walter was released. Hoyer beat them all out.
He appeared in five games, completing 19 of 27 passes for 142 yards and rushing 10 times for 25 yards and a touchdown.
Brady is in the last year of his contract, so the Patriots front office could be looking for someone that is capable to step in for him, should the two sides not be able to reach an agreement.
Hoyer told reporters he has no problem going toe-to-toe with one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.
“For me—and as crazy as this may sound to everyone—I wanted to try to compete with Tom,’’ Hoyer said. “In my opinion, he’s the best quarterback in this league, but the only way I feel like I can get better is to compete with the guy that’s ahead of me.’’
Part of that competitiveness stems from something he learned while being recruited by the Spartans.
“I was like ‘You have a bunch of quarterbacks here.’ One of the coaches was like, ‘There are always going to be quarterbacks wherever you go. You’re going to have to compete.’ It kind of struck me then.”
That advice has served him well.
He’s taken out the competition at Michigan State. He took out the competition to be Brady’s backup. He’s excited about the prospect of squaring off against Tebow. He’s confident about eventually being Brady’s successor.
It isn’t arrogance; it isn’t Hoyer thinking he’s better than everyone else. On the contrary, he respects those he goes up against.
Hoyer gets it. He understands that playing with and against the top players at his position will make him even more capable of a quarterback. He sat and took it all in last year. He truly learned.
He isn’t afraid of competition. He’s driven. He’s confident. He has heart.
He is someone the Patriots front office should challenge, but keep around. Because not only will Hoyer be better for it, but every other player on the team could learn something from him.