Could Patriots QB Cam Newton being limited in practice with an abdomen injury lead to a change at the position?
Despite trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on numerous occasions, the New England Patriots managed to squeak by the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday to keep their neck barely above water in the crowded AFC playoff picture.
While notching a win was the ultimate goal, media members understandably couldn’t sit idly by and ignore the fact that Cam Newton looked lost in the pocket, completing 9-of-18 pass attempts for less than 90 yards and two interceptions, amassing a ghastly 23.6 QBR in the process.
Most Patriots fans would assert that Newton should remain the starting quarterback despite his forgettable performance. After all, he unquestionably gives the team the best chance to win compared to their alternative options.
However, the former MVP popped up on this week’s injury with an abdomen injury, which limited him in practice on Wednesday, and this development has one Patriots insider thinking that it could ultimately lead to head coach Bill Belichick making a change at quarterback.
Tony Massarotti of 98.5 The Sports Hub is essentially saying that Belichick — compared to the way he acted after some of Newton’s other previous poor performances this season — wasn’t as certain on Sunday when he was asked if the gunslinger would be the Patriots’ starting quarterback moving forward.
“We just kind of keep working to get better,” Belichick told reporters. “Cam threw for 350 last week. The most important thing is we made the plays we needed to make to win. That’s what the goal will be every week.”
Is it possible that Belichick is just being facetious here in an effort to throw upcoming opponents of the scent of his actual plans? Given his track record, you certainly can’t put it past him. However, it also says a lot that the 68-year-old legend didn’t give a guarantee — like he did on two previous occasions this season — about Newton’s status as the starter.
Here’s what Massarotti had to say:
“The Patriots have one of the worst passing offenses in football and Newton has looked downright inept at times, and the only thing we haven’t seen at quarterback yet is (Jarrett) Stidham with an entire week or more of practice and preparation.”
It would be difficult to argue with that logic if we hadn’t already seen Stidham this season. That, however, obviously isn’t the case. When Newton was sidelined with COVID-19 back in Week 4 vs the Chiefs, the 2019 fourth-round pick finished 5-of-13 for 60 yards and one touchdown to two interceptions.
When Newton was benched in a blowout loss vs the 49ers in Week 7, he finished 6-of-10 for 60 yards and another interception. Those numbers combine to form a stat line of a 47.8% completion percentage,124 yards (5.4 yards per attempt) and one touchdown compared to three INTs.
Sure, we haven’t seen Stidham with a “full week to prepare” for an opponent, but that goes both ways, too. We’ve certainly seen him.
We’re not saying that Newton shouldn’t be on a short leash from here on out, but it would be downright moronic of the Patriots to pull the plug on him as the starter just as they finally catapulted themselves back into the playoff hunt.