Stidham drew mixed reviews from fans and pundits after he went 20-of-32 passing for 224 yards with one touchdown pass and no turnovers (but he did have several turnover-worthy passes). Broncos coach Sean Payton gave the QB a positive grade after the game.
“I thought he was good,” Payton said following Sunday’s 16-9 win over the Chargers. “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.”
The next day, Payton announced during his conference call with reporters that Stidham will also start in the team’s season finale against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18.
“The depth at that position going into the game coming up will be the same with Jarrett as the starter and ‘Russ’ as the No. 2,” Payton said Monday.
Stidham has been in the NFL since 2019, but Sunday marked just his third career start. It also marked his first career win as a starter.
“It’s great,” Stidham said after the game. “Once I got back to my locker, I texted my wife what a cool feeling it is to get my first NFL win. But with that, it’s not about me, it’s not about a first win, it’s about the team getting the eighth win of the year. I couldn’t be prouder of the guys in the locker room.
“We thought we played — definitely thought we left some points out there, but defense played phenomenal as usual. Special teams played great. Offensively, we just have to find a way — especially in the red zone — to put the ball in a little bit more. Really good team win, for sure.”
Denver’s offense gained 313 yards on Sunday and scored four times, although three of those scores were field goals. There’s certainly room for improvement for Stidham and Co. as they prepare to close out the 2023 season against the Raiders.