In perhaps a sign that things are moving at a Tom-Brady’s-40-time dash towards normalcy, we now have a couple conflicting reports on where exactly the New England Patriots stand with their 2020 quarterback.
First up, while you were nursing your New Year’s hangover, Adam Schefter dropped this on Sunday NFL Countdown, right before the Patriots doubled up the New York Jets.
(hey, you can say what you want about this season. As someone who’s Julian Edelman’s age and therefore old enough to remember the dark days of the Evil Empire 100-win Yankees, I will always, always always take an authoritative piledriver win over a New York team with a LEGO Joker smile, even if we’re both 1-14.)
“Cam Newton sounded resigned this week to the fact that he’ll be moving on from New England. It looks like he’s looking for something different, the Patriots are looking for something different.
“Both sides enjoyed their relationship, but both sides expect that it will take them to a different place and a different direction in 2021 with Cam Newton likely moving on and the Patriots in search of a new quarterback for next season. We’ll see what direction they decide to go.”
Pretty much a reasonable person’s take, right? There were the (few) great times, and there were the times the New England Patriots got nutmegged in prime time. It was worth a try, and no hard feelings, but hey, it is what it is, time for everyone to hit “refresh” and start from scratch.
Then came the clarification from a tag-team effort from ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
Reporter: There was a report on ESPN today that there’s an understanding between you and Cam Newton that you’ll be going in different directions this offseason. Is there an understanding that this was Cam’s final game?
Belichick: Is that another one of your anonymous reports?
Reporter: That was from Adam Schefter this morning.
Belichick: I don’t think that’s what Adam said. You should talk to Adam about that then.
Interesting! Bill’s general disdain for anyone not asking X’s and O’s questions that he happens to feel like discussing notwithstanding, the part where Bill didn’t respond with a simple “we’re going to do what’s best for the football team” seems......notable.
Then, on Monday morning, we got another one that seemed to confirm one of two things (or probably both): that the team has either really not reached any conclusion yet, or that Bill really, really doesn’t want to say what the plan is, because part of the strategy is not giving a single person any bit of useful information that’d help them plan against you:
Source on whether New England wants to move on from QB Cam Newton: "Long way from all those decisions."— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 11, 2021
To her credit, Josina also noted that, like every other offseason this dynasty, the Patriots’ brain trust still kinda has a lot of moving pieces:
In regards to #Patriots assistant director of player personnel Dave Ziegler, my understanding is the conversation on defining Ziegler’s role “is still a work in progress” and more clarity is expected “by the end of the week,” per sources.— IG: JosinaAnderson (@JosinaAnderson) January 11, 2021
Anyway! Back to the quarterback situation, which, as many of you have pointed out, is going to be the topic of conversation until at least training camp 2021, the most reasonable explanation is that, like everyone from Aaron Rodgers to Michael Jackson, Bill has a very specific number in mind that he’d be more than willing to bring Cam back at. You all saw Jarrett Stidham. Did you like what you saw?
It’s a strange place to be, no doubt, even if you’re old enough to remember the pre-Bradychick days. Even before the preposterous fortune that was gifted to the New England region before Bill & Tom, the New England Patriots either definitively had a quarterback, or they definitively, absolutely did not. Now, even after the most objectively bizarre season since at least the 2011 lockout, Cam Newton may well have a shot at being the 2021 Patriots quarterback, if for no other reason than being better than the alternative.
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, though, regardless of whatever anyone’s Cam take is, it’s this classic Belichick-ism. The man is, to put it mildly, probably not satisfied with the 2020 Patriots’ win-loss record. Bill could give a ____ less how you win, but when you do not produce the W’s....change is required.
From the best ‘07 retrospective on the planet (IMO):
(Donte) Stallworth: First meeting of the year, right after the draft, Belichick said, “We’re all losers. None of you were on the Colts.” And then the first play he shows is Brady throwing an incomplete pass. He says, “Johnny from Foxborough High could hit that pass.” I was sitting next to Randy, kind of slouched over. We both sat up straight.