You know it’s 2020 when the New England Patriots are struggling, and Coach Bill Belichick is being asked about his practice squad quarterback.
Belichick said practice squad QB Jake Dolegala has progressed "a lot" since joining the Patriots in mid-September: "I'm glad we have him. He's done a good job for us."
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) November 3, 2020
As a reminder, the Patriots are less than 2 years removed from a Super Bowl Championship with the GOAT Tom Brady as QB.
Anyway, in a topsy-turvy year that finds the Patriots 2-5, Belichick is working his way down the depth chart to evaluate his talent.
Which brings us to practice squad quarterback Jake Dolega.
Who is Jake Dolega?
Definitely not a household name, Dolega played college football at Central Connecticut State University.
Born and raised in western New York, Dolega is 6’7″ tall.
His grandfather Al Bemiller played with the Buffalo Bills in the 1960s.
Dolega was considered a Divsion I prospect in his senior year of high school, but he suffered a shoulder injury that dimmed those prospects.
2019 NFL Draft
He was passed over during the 2019 NFL Draft which tends to happen to good players from smaller schools.
Jim Kubiak, a former NFL quarterback who spent time on the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad during Peyton Manning‘s tenure, is Dolega’s mentor.
Prior to the 2019 NFL Draft, Kubiak shared his thoughts on Dolega:
“The biggest thing to really talk about when you go into the National Football League from college, in my opinion, is footwork and the speed of the game. Jake’s worked very diligently at operating from the pocket, from under center. His footwork is tremendous. So much of the college game is in shotgun, then you get in the NFL and things change a little bit. You’re under center quite a bit. He’s done a fantastic job with that.”
Following the draft, the Cincinnati Bengals signed Dolega to the practice squad where he spent the entire 2019 season.
Could He Play in 2020?
As soon as the Bengals called Joe Burrow‘s name in the 2020 NFL Draft, it was clear Dolega would need to find a new team.
After the Bengals released him, the Patriots signed Dolega to the practice squad in September.
It is not immediately clear if Dolega will make the leap from practice squad to Sunday afternoon action in 2020.
Cam Newton is the Patriots starting quarterback, for better or for worse.
Behind him is Brian Hoyer who is a solid veteran that hasn’t looked too solid in his chances so far this year.
And at third string is Jarrett Stidham.
Though many considered him the heir apparent to Brady, he hasn’t maximized his opportunities this year either.
Jake Dolega is a pocket passer and has some mobility.
When the Patriots were preparing for the Seahawks game, Dolega was Russell Wilson.
To be clear, he is not as mobile as Wilson.
Ryan McCarthy, Dolega’s offensive coordinator at Central Connecticut (and current head coach) talked about Dolega’s mobility.
“He became a viable ball carrier for us. You wouldn’t say he’s fast, but it’s amazing when we look back and see how many explosive runs he had — I’m talking runs over 12 yards — and he counted for a lot of those runs. The progression he made from junior year to senior year was very, very large.”
While Patriots fans are looking for a spark in 2020, some are concerned if Dolega gets a chance to play, it may result in injury or failure.NEXT: New England Patriots Sign WR Donte Moncrief To Contract