BOSTON — With Mac Jones, Tom Brady, Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo all starting games at quarterback this year in the NFL, the influence of Bill Belichick on the quarterback position has been notable. Now, you can add one more passer to the list.
This time, it wasn’t a quarterback who was chucking the pigskin, as Braxton Berrios — aka The One Who Got Away — threw the first pass of his career for the Jets in Pittsburgh. (Berrios did throw a pass as a senior in college for Miami, completing it for 17 yards.) It was a good one, too, as Berrios hit a wide-open Zach Wilson for a touchdown to put the Jets up 10-0.
Berrios was a sixth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2018, but he spent his rookie season on injured reserve. He was cut in the summer of 2019, and he was signed by the Jets. He earned his roster spot as a punt returner in 2019, but increased his role in the offense each season, before re-signing with the Jets as a free agent this past offseason. While he’s returned punts, caught passes, and run the ball, he had never thrown a pass until Sunday.
The list of players who entered the league via Bill Belichick to throw a touchdown in the NFL this season can grow later on Sunday, too. Though Brian Hoyer wasn’t drafted, his first NFL job came as an undrafted free agent in New England, way back in 2009. Hoyer is getting the start for the Patriots in Green Bay, in place of the injured Mac Jones.
Quarterbacks drafted by Belichick have also been a factor in other realms in the NFL this year, with Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell (2008, third round) and Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury (2003, sixth round) both starting their NFL careers as quarterbacks with the Patriots.