The New England Patriots’ offense played a disappointing game against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14, scoring only three points and turning the football over once on a pick-six and three times on downs. Given his position and role as the unit’s leader, quarterback Cam Newton naturally stands right in the middle of the postgame debate — his performance, fair or not, will be scrutinized the most in the aftermath of the Patriots’ 24-3 loss.
That is especially true after he posted some rather pedestrian numbers before being benched in the early fourth quarter in favor of second-year man Jarrett Stidham. And yet, Newton will remain as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, according to Bill Belichick.
During his postgame press conference, New England’s head coach was asked the question on everybody’s mind by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. His answer was clear as day.
“Great question, Mike. I’m really glad you asked that. Cam’s our quarterback,” said Belichick.
While Stidham looked slightly better in his most recent relief appearances than he did earlier during the season — he entered Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers and threw a touchdown before going 5-for-7 for 27 yards versus the Rams — the Patriots are sticking with the former league MVP instead of the youngster. Newton will remain New England’s starting quarterback, despite his struggles as a passer.
“Jarrett’s worked hard. He’s trying to take advantage of his opportunities, but that’s not really the point,” said Belichick about the former fourth-round draft pick.
Newton, meanwhile, finished the game against the Rams with a 9-for-16 stat-line for 119-yards as well as the aforementioned interception that was returned for a touchdown. It was just the latest below-average performance by the former league MVP, at least from a statistical perspective. Of course, context is important as well, and Newton did manage to do enough on the ground and through the air to lead the team to four wins in five games recently.
Against the Rams, however, he failed to do that. And yet, the Patriots are sticking with the 31-year-old after a game in which he was not the only problem as Belichick was quick to point out.
“Certainly, the Rams were the better team tonight,” he said. “They deserve all the credit. We were out-coached, out-played — everything, really. They did a great job in all the areas. We just weren’t good enough to really stay with them here. They’re a good football team, they played well. Played and coached better than we did, they deserved to win. We just have to all do a better job, starting with me. Just wasn’t our night tonight.”
The Patriots will now have nine days to righten the ship again, and even then the team will likely be unable to reach the playoffs. No matter what happens, though, it seems that Newton will lead New England through it — at least for now.