Bill Belichick is insistent that Cam Newton will remain the starting quarterback of the Patriots. His offensive coordinator seems to have no issue with that.
The morning after the Patriots’ 24-3 loss to the Rams, in which Newton and the offense as a whole were abysmal, the Patriots head coach again backed his quarterback, saying he was done answering questions about it. There still seems to be no consideration for backup Jarrett Stidham at this stage.
“Cam’s certainly been the best option for us all year along, since he earned the opportunity in training camp,” Josh McDaniels said Friday. “Whenever the offense struggles, I know the attention is always going to be turned to that position. Me personally, it’s my responsibility to put us in a position to be more productive than we were last night. Every time we struggle offensively and don’t score enough points to win the game, I know I have to do a better job.
“Quarterback play is dependent on a lot of things to be done right, and to be executed properly. The quarterback has to do his job, but there’s a lot of other people that go into doing that same thing and being a productive offensive unit.”
The Patriots seem to think they know enough about Stidham that he’s not better suited to win games than Newton, even if he’s only played in four games this season, all in relief duty. Belichick said the second-year quarterback is still ascending and has room to grow.
But what exactly do they know about Stidham? Most of their evaluation is coming not from games, but the practice field.
“The biggest body of work we can see from Jarrett is in practice,” McDaniels said. “He’s certainly made progress in some areas and he’s got room to grow as well. ... In some ways he’s made the most of his opportunities but there’s definitely some things we can fix and tweak as we move forward. He’ll hopefully improve from some of the things we’ve seen on tape.”
That practice time might not tell the whole story, though. Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, who has only worked with Stidham this season, said he’s only been running the scout team, which means he hasn’t had much time with the offense. “There’s not a lot of plays in a practice where the No. 2 quarterback gets to work on our offense,” Fisch said.
But the Patriots still see progress in Stidham, not regression. Asked what specific improvements he’s seen in the quarterback, Fisch complimented his growing knowledge.
“We kind of always talk about in the quarterback room that knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you understand and the more you can comprehend, the more power you have at the line of scrimmage, the more confidence you have as you play,” Fisch said. “I’ve seen some growth in terms of his confidence, growth in terms of the speed of play. He’s always been a very pure passer, he throws a very good ball. That’s always been the case from coming out of college, but what he has done is he’s continued to improve each week his ability to process and play fast.”