Will Jarrett Stidham start for the Patriots? Bill Belichick, Cam Newton mum on QB situation

Who will start at quarterback for the Patriots next Monday night against the Bills? Cam Newton doesn’t know, and Bill Belichick isn’t ready to reveal his plans — if he has any yet.
That question is suddenly the most important and compelling one in Foxboro after the Patriots were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with Sunday’s 22-12 loss to the Dolphins. Monday morning, Newton kept his head down when asked if he expected to remain the starter instead of second-year backup Jarrett Stidham over the final two weeks.
“I’m going to leave it up to the people who I’ve been leaving it up to since Day 1,” Newton said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.” “I’m not going to get caught up into it or feed into that, knowing that I’m still on a job interview, to be honest with you. It’s my job to put the best version of me on film and that’s what I plan on doing.”
He’ll be leaving it up to Belichick, who may have other ideas. But it wasn’t anything but straightforward from the Patriots coach when he was asked about it Monday morning.
Belichick has stuck with Newton all season, making it a point to say he’s the team’s quarterback and even defending him after some abysmal performances. Last week, the coach said he had answered questions for the last time about the Patriots’ quarterback situation, but the situation is different now that the Patriots are out of the playoff hunt.
When asked if Stidham would get a longer look in their final two games, Belichick didn’t exactly answer but didn’t rule it out either.
“We’ll see,” Belichick said.
Then, pressed about what Newton, who has not led the Patriots on a touchdown drive since their 45-0 win over the Chargers two weeks ago, has done to keep his job if he stays with him, Belichick deflected.
“We have a lot of team questions we need to answer, so I think that will be the overriding thing,” Belichick said. “We’ll talk about that today, tomorrow – we have an extra day this week – and then start from a bigger-picture standpoint. Obviously, haven’t played the run well the last two weeks and haven’t been able to score a touchdown the last two weeks, so I don’t think this is about any one individual.”
Newton has barely held a grasp on the starting job with inconsistent performances all season, forcing loud outside cries for Stidham to get a longer look. But with two games left and almost no incentive to win, it makes even more sense for the Pats to see what they have in Stidham, who has played in four games this season, all in relief duty.
More than a week ago, after the Patriots’ 24-3 loss to the Rams, Belichick called Stidham an ascending player who is building like any player at his development stage. The Patriots have made most of their evaluations of the 24-year-old in practice, but quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch revealed that a majority of his reps have come in running the scout team. He hasn’t had a lot of time in running the first-team offense, so why not now?
If Belichick does make a change, he’s not ready to pull the trigger quickly, if at all.
“We haven’t set any timeframe on that,” Belichick said. “So, not really – yeah, I don’t really see it going that way. We’ll go through our normal weekly process and make the decisions that we feel are best for the game in everything.”
Whatever the case, Newton is motivated to perform well if he continues to be given opportunities. The 31-year-old certainly doesn’t have a guaranteed future in New England, but contrary to rumors that he might be considering retirement, he has plans to keep playing.
“I’m not there,” Newton said of retirement. “One of my goals this year, for what it’s worth, was just to finish the year healthy and this year, God has granted me and gave me the opportunity to play a healthy season for what it’s worth, and I still have a lot of football left and I still want to play football and I have that urge to be better. After putting up this film? Come on, now. I can’t go out like this. I definitely can’t go out like this.”

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