If the New England Patriots know who is going to be their starting quarterback in 2020, the coaching staff wasn’t giving out any clues Friday during video conference calls.
And quite frankly, they might not know. Cam Newton has only participated in walk-throughs with his new team. Neither Jarrett Stidham nor Brian Hoyer were able to take part in minicamp and organized team activities this spring. Brian Lewerke is an undrafted free agent, and if he’s the starter, then something went very, very wrong for the Patriots. Oh, and Tom Brady is now the starter for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It’s a different challenge, it’s a new year,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “Having coached Tom for a long time, there’s going to be a great competition. There’s a great energy right now in our room and within our offensive group just to get out on the field and do our walkthroughs and do their working out and all those things they’re able to do now. And I think there’s an anticipation and excitement for us to have an opportunity to actually practice. We haven’t seen anybody do anything relatively speaking from a football perspective yet because we’re not at that phase yet of training camp but it’s been good getting to know everybody.”
It definitely doesn’t sound like the Patriots are in a hurry to name a starter, though time is of the essence. They will have to figure out who’s going to be QB1 without any preseason games, however.
“I think the real key is like in every position group, people always feel like the quarterback room is different and that you have to make a decision much faster and eliminate competition quickly. I don’t think we see that here,” quarterback coach Jedd Fisch said. “I think we see it as an incredible opportunity. First of all, the opportunity to work against one another and compete with one another and then on the same token be teammates makes everybody be better. That’s the first part. The more competition we have, the more reps we have, the more time we let all of the guys dual it out to see how it all plays out will make all of them better. I think rising tides lift all ships. I think there’s an opportunity for everybody to just keep challenging one another.”
The Patriots will start practicing Aug. 12. Pads will come on Aug. 17 and the season will begin Sept. 13 at home against the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots can only really eliminate Lewerke from the starting competition. So, Newton, Stidham and Hoyer will all have to share reps throughout camp.
“There’s no question the more players that you’re trying to rep and get, let’s just call them similar looks, the more difficult it can become,” McDaniels said. “You’ve got to be creative. We’re using every period in practice, I know that for sure. You use every period in practice and whether it’s a group period or 7-on-7 or team periods, we’re going to have to evaluate everything we do and it goes from the QB position all the way through the offense on my side of the ball. …
“I think at the end of the day, when you go into a season the way we’re going into it with a truncated offseason, a truncated training camp, I think you really want to try to be as good as you can fundamentally and not worry about volume as much as possible. It doesn’t matter how many things you can teach, what matters is what we can do well. So we’re going to have to try to get all our QBs to do things the right way within the scheme of the offense and then let the competition play out and then at some point, that will kind of declare itself.”
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, should certainly be viewed as the favorite for the gig. But a starting role isn’t guaranteed for the quarterback just yet and he gets prepared to fend off Stidham and Hoyer. Let the games begin.