The New England Patriots‘ head coach Bill Belichick knew the questions about his starting quarterback were coming, and he was ready for it.
Belichick was asked if he was going to go with Jarrett Stidham as his quarterback in place of Cam Newton after the team’s 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Belichick’s answer came quick and definitive.
In fact, he didn’t even allow ESPN’s Mike Reiss to complete the question before he said.
“Yeah, great question Mike, really glad you asked that, Cam’s our quarterback.”
When pressed by a follow-up question from the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, Belichick said:
“He’s our quarterback. Think I just answered that one, Ben.”
Well, OK then.
Here is a look at Belichick’s postgame presser:
Bill Belichick Postgame Press Conference pic.twitter.com/jsTKymyqmS
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) December 11, 2020
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Why Belichick is Sticking With Newton
The Patriots clearly see themselves as a running team, and because of the element Newton gives them with his legs, they still believe he provides them their best chance to win. The Patriots don’t have standout players at the skill positions, so it is clear, their approach is to lean on the offensive line, the running backs, and Newton to play smashmouth football.
It has worked six times this season, and the Patriots have been in a good position to win all but two games this year. However, when things look bad for this team, they look miserable. We saw an example of that on Thursday.
It’s unclear what the Patriots really think of Stidham. He obviously has some arm talent and he isn’t immobile. However, his style requires a little more than what the Patriots have available at wide receiver and tight end.
That could also be the reason they haven’t made a switch.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, Newton wasn’t horrible on Thursday night, despite what some are pushing. He had a pick-six on a screen pass in the red zone that was produced by Newton giving a physical clue, Aaron Donald making a great play to hold up Damien Harris on his route, and Josh McDaniels’ insanely predictable offense.
Aside from that play, Newton only threw 15 passes in three quarters and he completed nine of them for 116 yards. What would have happened if he had been trusted to go down the field a little more?
The Patriots’ most successful plays of the day were throws down the field. Newton had completions of 19, 17, 31, and 30 yards. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get enough of those calls to blast or celebrate Newton.
Perhaps that’s another reason no change is being made at quarterback.
The Playoffs Are All But Out of the Picture
With a seventh loss, the Patriots need an inordinate amount of help from other teams if they are going to make the playoffs. They can only control what’s in front of them and it starts next week when they meet their AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins in a rematch of their Week 1 meeting.
A loss in that game will likely mathematically eliminate them from the postseason. At that point, we might see Stidham get his opportunity to start.