New England Patriots fans hoping to see Jarrett Stidham at quarterback will have to continue to wait.
Head coach Bill Belichick stood by Cam Newton on Thursday night after the Patriots were walloped by the Los Angeles Rams 24-3 in a Week 14 performance in which the QB went just 9-of-16 for 119 yards with an interception and four sacks before being replaced by his backup, Stidham (5-7, 27 yards).
“Great question,” a sarcastic Belichick said when asked if Newton would start Week 15 against the Miami Dolphins. “Really glad you asked that.”
Belichick turned serious.
“Cam’s our quarterback.”
The Patriots now are 6-7 on the season, and they’re long shots for a playoff spot even if they were to string three consecutive victories together against the Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets to finish out the season.
Perhaps the Patriots would be willing to start Stidham once they’re officially out of playoff contention. Belichick said the Patriots are focused on just one game at a time, however.
Stidham certainly hasn’t been perfect, but he’s completed 7-of-10 passes for 88 yards with a touchdown in mop-up duty over the last two weeks while Newton has completed 21-of-35 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and interception against the Los Angeles Chargers and Rams.
At some point, it would seem to be beneficial to see what the Patriots have in Stidham before the end of the season so they can better plan for the future at quarterback. The Patriots were willing to head into the 2020 season with Stidham as their top QB before signing Newton as a free agent in early July. Newton beat out Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting job in training camp. Stidham actually began the year as New England’s third-stringer before performing better than Hoyer in the Patriots’ Week 4 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs when Newton was out with COVID-19. Stidham has been Newton’s backup since that game. He’s thrown two touchdowns and three interceptions in 33 passing attempts this season.
Stidham is the Patriots’ only quarterback under contract for the 2021 season. Newton and Hoyer both signed one-year contracts with the Patriots this offseason.
Newton has scored 11 rushing touchdowns but has just five touchdown passes to 10 interceptions in 12 games. Thursday night’s interception came on a screen pass to running back Damien Harris, who was held back on the play by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“That type of play is all off of anticipation,” Newton said. “I thought he had got right outside of the defender. So I was just going to try to lead him upfield. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and it ended up being a turnover the other way.”
Newton said he should have lived “to fight another down.”
“We were in the position where we were just trying to make the most of what we had,” Newton said. “We knew this was a stingy defense and rightfully so. I probably pressed too much, and if I had it back, I’d probably throw it into the ground.”
Newton came into the game questionable with an abdomen injury that was described as “painful” on the FOX broadcast. Newton said it didn’t affect him in the game. He was also asked about potentially being benched in Week 15.
“That’s not my call,” Newton said. “I’m just doing what I’m asked. I’m going into each week with the mentality to keep getting better, and that’s what I plan on doing.”
We know Newton will be the Patriots’ starter against the Dolphins. If New England loses in Week 15, then Belichick might not want to answer it, but he’ll probably be asked about the Patriots’ starting quarterback position again. And if the Patriots are out of the running, then they should finally bite the bullet and turn the keys over to Stidham.