Shortly after his team’s 33-6 blowout loss against the San Francisco 49ers last Sunday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was asked about the team’s quarterback situation: Cam Newton had just been benched in favor of Jarrett Stidham, after the starter had thrown three more interceptions to bring his season total to seven in five games. Belichick’s answer, however, was pretty clear.
Cam Newton is still the Patriots’ starting quarterback — an opinion he later reiterated when he called the veteran the best player the team has at the position. Belichick’s opinion is the only one that truly matters, but his decision to stick with Newton has the support of the Patriots’ fanbase.
According to SB Nation’s latest Reacts survey, 73 percent of participants answered the question about who New England’s starting quarterback should be against the Buffalo Bills this week by picking Cam Newton. For comparison, only 21 percent went with Jarrett Stidham, with the remaining six percent probably the families of third-stringer Brian Hoyer and practice squad quarterback Jake Dolegala.
Going with Newton makes sense, despite his recent struggles. He has shown that he can successfully lead the team’s offense before his Coronavirus diagnosis earlier this month, and has been a central part of the Patriots’ efforts to run the football as well. Stidham, meanwhile, has shown little during his relief appearances in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs and on Sunday against the 49ers.
The second-year quarterback may have some potential for the future, but if he has he is hiding it pretty well. Newton, on the other hand, is an established starting quarterback in the NFL.
Sure, the Patriots could opt to make a switch at one point if the former league MVP continues to struggle and turn the football over at an unacceptable rate. Such a scenario, however, will likely not take place until it either becomes clear he is no longer the best option to lead the offense — again: Stidham has not shown anything to suggest that he is — or the season is already lost anyway.
A switch could eventually happen, but probably only once the team is in “building for 2021” mode and trying to get as much in-game information out of the two candidates as possible. Until then, however, Newton gives the Patriots the best chance to win and possibly still salvage their season. This process starts against the Bills on Sunday, after which point New England will have a pretty good understanding about its outlook this year.
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