The Patriots won't just hand the starting quarterback job to Cam Newton, and backup Jarrett Stidham has the benefit of experience in New England's system.
But if Dante Scarnecchia was a betting man, he'd put his money on a three-time Pro Bowler over a second-year QB with 15 career NFL snaps.
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Here's what the recently-retired Patriots offensive line coach had to say about Newton's chances of being the starter during a recent appearance on SiriusXM Mad Dog Sports Radio with host Lance Medow:
I think he has a huge edge because of what he’s done in the league. The guy was an MVP [in 2015]. We played against him a number of times, have a huge respect for him as a player and leader, and the things he’s done.
This guy, from a skill set, a lot different from guys we’ve had in there at quarterback over the years. [Jarrett] Stidham has great feet and ability to move and avoid the rush, and create and do a lot of similar things.
Scarnecchia still thinks highly of Stidham, whom he worked with last season during his 34th and final year in New England.
"I don’t think he’s to Cam’s skill set, but this guy is a pretty good player," Scarnecchia said of Stidham. "He also has a tremendous work ethic and he’s a smart guy. I know this, you have to be a smart guy to play quarterback in that system."
Still, Scarnecchia apparently believes Stidham's smarts and familiarity with New England's system can only go so far. Newton brings much more talent and nine years of NFL experience to New England, and there's reason to believe he'll pick up the Patriots' offense quickly despite the unique challenges of this offseason.
Newton has to prove he's healthy this season after missing 16 games over the past two seasons due to shoulder and foot injuries. But Scarnecchia is well aware of what it takes to be a successful QB in New England, so if he views the 31-year-old QB as the clear-cut favorite to start, we're inclined to believe him -- despite what others might think.