With only one game remaining in the New England Patriots’ 2020 season, the number one question surrounding the team at this point in time is who will start at quarterback this week. Will incumbent veteran Cam Newton lead the team into its game versus the New York Jets, or will it be second-year backup Jarrett Stidham?
While there will be no public announcement made by the organization either way, head coach Bill Belichick dropped a hint during an appearance on WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni and Fauria show on Tuesday.
When asked whether or not Newton would remain the starter despite getting benched in favor of Stidham against the Buffalo Bills on Monday night — the second time in a three-week span that this happened — he tentatively committed to the status quo:
“I would imagine, but we’re going through that right now. We’ll see.”
Even though Belichick did not give a definitive answer, his statement in combination with Newton keeping the starting spot throughout some inconsistent play and New England’s playoff elimination paints a somewhat clear picture: the team is still seeing him as its number one quarterback, and as the player to give the offense the best chance to succeed.
Of course, however, New England did not have a lot of success on the offensive side against Buffalo. The team scored only nine points all day, with Newton going 5-for-10 for 34 yards before getting pulled in favor of Stidham halfway through the third quarter. He did also add 24 yards and a touchdown on four rushing attempts, but the unit as a whole continued to struggle with the 31-year-old leading the way.
And yet, it does not appear to be Stidham’s time just yet after he himself went just 4-for-11 for 44 yards on Monday.
“At some point, he’ll get an opportunity to play,” said Belichick about Stidham on Tuesday. “With a good opportunity to prepare and play, that will be a better evaluation. Whatever point that is, I don’t know.”
One point that was raised during the 20-minute segment was the Patriots possibly already having a good feel for Stidham as a player based on his two seasons worth of behind-the-scenes work. While Belichick did mention that he may not “know everything I need to know about him” just yet, he also went along with the general idea of a start this week not necessarily giving the team more information to work with.
“I think there would be some truth to that,” New England’s head coach said.
Things can always change over the next few days — the Patriots will start their on-field preparation for the season finale versus the Jets on Wednesday — but for now it seems as if Belichick and his coaching staff will continue riding with Newton. At least early on.