Patriots

Would Patriots play both Newton and Stidham? Here is Belichick's response

Patriots

The debate over who should start at quarterback for the New England Patriots in Week 15 has intensified after the team's lackluster performance against the Los Angeles Rams.

Cam Newton again played poorly in Week 14, completing nine of 16 pass attempts for just 119 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. He's thrown three touchdown passes and eight interceptions over his last nine games. 

Backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham has yet to show a ton of positives, either. He made his fourth appearance of the season in garbage time of the Week 14 loss to the Rams.

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Would the Patriots consider playing both quarterbacks over the final three games of the regular season? This was one of the questions posed to Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during his weekly Monday interview with WEEI's "Ordway, Merloni & Fauria."

"That's not where we are right now," Belichick said. "We're not there right now." When pushed further, Belichick responded, "It's a hypothetical question. I have no idea."

It's not a horrible idea to play two quarterbacks. 

There's no question Newton has been valuable to the Patriots offense when running the football. He ranks third among all quarterbacks with 451 rushing yards, and his 11 rushing touchdowns are tied for the second-most among all players regardless of position. When the Patriots are near the goal line, Newton gives the offense more options than Stidham.

Throwing the football has been a much different story for Newton, though. He's thrown five touchdown passes and 10 interceptions in 12 games. His five TD passes are by far the lowest of any quarterback who's started 12 or more games in 2020.

 

If the Patriots are trailing by double digits, especially in the second half, it's very unlikely they will mount a successful comeback if Newton is at quarterback, based on his passing struggles.

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Stidham gives the Patriots a better chance to win in passing situations. In fairness to Newton, it's not like Stidham has played lights out when he's been on the field. The 2019 fourth-round draft pick has completed 54 percent of his passes in limited playing time this season.

But it does make sense to give Stidham a bunch of reps over the final three games so the team can get an accurate evaluation on where he stands entering the offseason. It's no secret the Patriots have an uncertain future at quarterback, and if Stidham is going to be part of that conversation, he might as well get an opportunity to show what he can do as the starter with a normal week of practice reps and preparation.

Belichick has been very loyal to Newton amid the veteran quarterback's struggles this season, and he again showed that confidence in the former league MVP after the loss to the Rams. But if the Patriots' playoff hopes end Sunday, it will be interesting to see what unfolds at quarterback for the last two games of the season.