PATS REPORTER

Perry: Could Newton vs. Stidham evolve into Newton and Stidham?

PATS REPORTER
AP photos

FOXBORO -- Seven snaps. There was a stretch of seven snaps in Wednesday's Patriots practice that carried with it all kinds of intrigue. 

Had it not been for what Bill Belichick said earlier in the day, perhaps those seven snaps wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. But Belichick didn't rule out the possibility of a quarterback platoon for his team in 2020. And those seven snaps -- when Belichick and Josh McDaniels called for Jarrett Stidham and Cam Newton to alternate snaps, neither taking more than two consecutively -- served as a preview of what a platoon might actually look like.

 

 

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You can find every detail on Newton and Stidham's performances in today's Postcard from Camp, but it was in those seven snaps during a competitive 11-on-11 period that the styles of the two quarterbacks truly came to the fore.

Stidham, he of the live arm and the clean release, was asked to push the ball down the field. Newton, among the most physically-gifted players to ever play the position due to his size and athleticism, operated a multi-faceted running game. 

Reporters aren't permitted to publish details of "unconventional plays," but there were unconventional plays on display with Newton behind center. There was deception. There was one designed quarterback run.

 

 

The question as to whether or not the Patriots will actually move forward with a quarterback platoon this season is an entertaining one to bat around because a) the training camp reps to this point have been pretty evenly split and b) it would require the kind of outside-the-box thinking that has characterized Belichick's coaching style for the last two decades. 

 

But one reason it seems feasible at this point in time is that Stidham and Newton's styles are unique. They would provide different elements to the Patriots offense -- particularly early on if Newton needed time to pick up the intricacies of the scheme before taking the reins himself. 

 

 

The pairing would be, perhaps, what McDaniels planned on having led the Broncos offense 10 years ago when he had a more traditional drop-back passer in Kyle Orton paired with a first-round pick considered to be a promising power runner. 

Now, on a veteran minimum salary, McDaniels and Belichick have a player whose talent far exceeds Tim Tebow's. They have the best power-running quarterback to ever play, which creates possibilities. Misdirection is available to them. Run-game looks that defenses rarely have to consider are in play. 

Of course, it's early. 

There certainly still exists the possibility that Newton could run away with the job in the next few weeks. He's already submitted a turnover-free, take-what-the-defense-gives day on Tuesday. And while he threw two picks Wednesday -- one of which was a head-scratching throw that ended up in the arms of rookie linebacker Cassh Maluia -- he also threw dimes to Gunner Olszewski and Damiere Byrd on deep timing routes. He was on the money on quick inward-breaking routes to Julian Edelman. 

Not bad for someone who has had about a month to learn the offense. Newton may have his arms around the full-time gig by the end of the month. 

But, for now, envisioning a platoon in New England -- and how that platoon might benefit the Patriots offense by accentuating two different quarterback skill sets -- is, if nothing else, thought-provoking.

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