After Sunday’s debacle at Gillette Stadium, Bill Belichick said Cam Newton “absolutely” will remain the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback.
On Monday, he explained why.
“I think he’s our best player there,” the Patriots coach said on WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni & Fauria.” “Again, there are other problems. Offensively, there are other things that we need to just do better and that’s what we’re going to work on. I think we have our best players out there. We’ve just gotta find a way to be more productive. We have been at times, but we weren’t (Sunday). So we need to see if we can improve that.”
Newton has struggled in each of his last three starts for the Patriots and has been downright bad since returning from the reserve/COVID-19 list.
Over the last two games, the former NFL MVP has thrown for just 255 yards and no touchdowns with five interceptions, and the Patriots have scored only one touchdown in 19 possessions, not including one end-of-half kneeldown. Belichick benched Newton after his third pick in Sunday’s 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
New England managed just two field goals against San Francisco. It was the first time the Patriots were held without a touchdown since the Buffalo Bills shut out Jacoby Brissett 16-0 in 2016 and the first time they failed to reach the end zone in a game their preferred QB started since 2013, when they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 13-6 in a monsoon.
Newton acknowledged in a Monday morning WEEI interview that he’ll eventually lose his starting job if his play does not improve. But backup Jarrett Stidham hasn’t looked like a desirable option, either.
In two relief appearances this month — one for Brian Hoyer in a Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and one for Newton on Sunday — Stidham has completed 47.8 percent of his passes (11 of 23) for 124 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions and added 6 rushing yards on four carries. His 39.3 passer rating ranks last among all QBs with at least 20 pass attempts this season.
Add in his pick-six to Jamal Adams last season, and the 2019 fourth-round draft pick has thrown the ball to the wrong team on four of his 27 career pass attempts — a whopping 14.8 percent interception rate.
The 2-4 Patriots are scheduled to visit the AFC East-leading, 5-2 Buffalo Bills on Sunday.