Cam Newton is the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback, and that’s final.
That was Bill Belichick’s message Friday morning after the team returned home from its 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Belichick said several times during his postgame video conference that Newton, who was benched Thursday for the second time this season, would not lose his starting job to second-year backup Jarrett Stidham ahead of next Sunday’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
The coach was asked Friday whether anything he saw in the game film prompted him to reconsider that decision.
“I’ve answered that question for the last time,” Belichick replied.
Since throwing for 365 yards in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans, Newton has posted the following stat lines:
Week 12: 9-for-18, 84 yards, two interceptions; nine carries, 46 yards in a 20-17 win over the Arizona Cardinals
Week 13: 12-for-19, 69 yards, one touchdown; 14 carries, 48 yards, two touchdowns in a 45-0 win over the Los Angeles Chargers
Week 14: 9-for-18, 119 yards, one interception; seven carries, 16 yards in a 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams
Belichick also wasn’t interested in discussing Stidham, other than to say he still sees growth potential in the 2019 fourth-round draft pick.
Below is the transcript of an exchange between Belichick and NFL Media reporter Mike Giardi.
Question: Do you know exactly what you have in Jarrett, and can you share what you think that is?
Belichick: “I think I?ve talked about that multiple times.?
Is he still an ascending player in your mind?
What are some of the things that he?s shown you in Year 2 that leads you to believe there?s still plenty of growth that?s happened and more to come?
“All the things that we?ve talked about. It?s true of most every second-year player. Knowledge of our system, knowledge of the league, building good habits, building good fundamentals, gaining experience. Those things are true for all players at that stage of their development.?
And how do you think he?s handled being Cam?s backup?
“Jarrett?s done everything we?ve asked him to do, and he?s done everything that he can do. I don?t think you can ask any more than that.”
Belichick said after Thursday’s loss that Stidham “has worked hard” and has “tried to take advantage of his opportunities.”
“But that?s not really the point,” he added.
The point, Belichick said Friday, is to field the best possible team.
“Sometimes, there’s situations in a game where you can put somebody in,” Belichick said. “But we’re trying to win the game. That’s what we’re here for is to win the game.”
It’s clear Belichick and the Patriots still believe Newton is a better option behind center than Stidham. But with the playoffs now likely out of reach, it would benefit New England to give Stidham at least one start over the final three weeks of the season.
All four of the 24-year-old’s appearances this season have come in relief, meaning he’s never received a full week of practice reps as the Patriots’ No. 1 quarterback. While Stidham hasn’t looked overly impressive in his limited action, it’s difficult to properly evaluate a player under those circumstances.
Stidham has completed 18 of 33 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns with three interceptions in 2020, going 5-for-7 for 27 yards on Thursday. He currently is the only Patriots QB under contract for the 2021 season. Newton and third-stringer Brian Hoyer are on one-year deals.