Patriots Have QB Competition Until They Know Cam Newton Can Return Week 5

If Cam Newton can't play, should the Patriots start Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer?

by Doug Kyed

Oct 6, 2020

In an absolute best-case scenario, New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton will remain asymptomatic, pass two consecutive COVID-19 tests and return to practice this week to face the Denver Broncos in Week 5.

But the Patriots can’t just sit idly by and twiddle their thumbs until they know that situation is going to unfold this week. So, therefore, they have to make a decision by Wednesday on which QB is going to take top practice reps between Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham.

The Patriots missed Newton on Monday when they lost 26-10 to the Kansas City Chiefs. But they also could have beaten the undefeated Chiefs without some of their own gaffes and one blown call by NFL officials.

Hoyer was 15-of-24 for 130 yards with an interception and lost fumble. Stidham went 5-of-13 for 60 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Stidham took blame for both picks, but one — a pick-six — careened off of wide receiver Julian Edelman’s hands and into Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu’s.

“Those are both on me,” Stidham said. “I’ve got to just place the ball better to Jules. The one to Damiere (Byrd) over the top, just trying to give him a chance and I’ve just got to do a better job of laying it out there and letting him go get it.”

Hoyer played fine until the Patriots got into the red zone at which time all hell broke loose twice.

With 10 seconds remaining in the first half, Hoyer took a sack and motioned for a timeout. Just one problem: The Patriots didn’t have any left and went into halftime squandering an opportunity for at least three points.

The Patriots found themselves back in the red zone in the third quarter. Hoyer again ate a sack but this time fumbled the ball away to the Chiefs. That was another squandered opportunity for at least three points.

Hoyer was supposed to be the veteran passer who would at least avoid mental errors.

Brian, you had one job!

So, Hoyer was benched. And it would be tough for the Patriots to go back to him Week 5 if Newton still can’t play. The easier decision would be to hand the reins to Stidham. And if that goes south, the Patriots could always reverse course again, bench Stidham and bring in Hoyer.

Stidham doesn’t know if he’ll be starting in Week 5 if Newton can’t play.

“Oh, I don’t really know,” Stidham said. “I’m just really mainly focused on the game that we just played and watching the film on the way home and seeing what I can do better. And then as we get into tomorrow start getting ready for Denver and moving on to them.”

The Patriots have the benefit of Newton’s return on the horizon. If the Patriots had to pick between Hoyer and Stidham in more of a permanent situation, then maybe they’d stick with one QB for the long haul. But they can afford to waffle while knowing that Newton’s return should be imminent.

Either quarterback would probably play better with the benefit of an entire normal week of practice. Hoyer and Stidham both were thrust into action after taking scout-team reps last week.

Thumbnail photo via Jay Biggerstaff/USA TODAY Sports Images
New England Patriots quarterback Brian Hoyer
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