Bill Belichick hasn’t been asked this much about the quarterback position in a long time, and the Patriots head coach is likely thankful there’s only one week left of the inquiries.
The questions came again after New England’s 38-9 loss to Buffalo on “Monday Night Football.” Belichick benched Cam Newton for the third time this season during the Pats’ loss, replacing him with Jarrett Stidham early in the second half. Neither played well as the shadow of Tom Brady continues to hang over New England.
When Belichick was asked in his postgame press conference about the plans at QB for Week 17, he said, “We haven’t made any plans for next week. The game is 15 minutes old.”
Seems fair enough. After all, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson hasn’t even announced Jalen Hurts as the next week’s starter until the day after Hurts’ last few starts, so for Belichick to want to use most of Week 17 to consider his options isn’t outrageous.
Newton completed 5-of-10 passes Monday night for 34 yards while rushing four times for 24 yards and a touchdown. While Newton looked a bit revitalized early in the season, he’s been poor for most of the campaign’s second half. In his last six games, he’s completed 78-of-130 passes (60 percent) for 880 yards (147 yards per game) with two touchdowns and three interceptions. The Pats have reverted to an old-school offense centered around running with their quarterback and multiple running backs just to stay in games.
When Stidham’s gotten chances this season, he hasn’t exactly seized them. The 2019 fourth-round pick out of Auburn finished Monday night 4-for-11 for 44 yards. On the season, he’s completed half (22-44) of his passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
The Patriots also have veteran Brian Hoyer on the roster, but Stidham would be the logical starter in Week 17 from a looking-to-the-future perspective. Newton’s on a one-year deal and hasn’t done much to suggest New England should re-sign him. Stidham, 24, is the only QB “prospect” on the Patriots’ roster.
Meanwhile, Brady is down in Tampa lighting it up and heading to the postseason. Belichick wasn’t Mr. Sunshine with reporters even when Brady was around, but at least he knew there wouldn’t be questions to answer about a quarterback controversy. That’s far from the case now.