However, there was other verbiage used that seemed to send some a mixed message.
Cam Newton is the Starter…Right?
The Athletic’s Jeff Howe wrote the following in his news and notes after Day 4 of Patriots training camp:
Bill Belichick was asked about the QB competition before practice and said, “I’m sure it will be a hard decision” when declaring a winner. He added that every player must reestablish their role on the team. Belichick also noted, “Cam is our starting quarterback.” While that last quote drew the most attention, it could also be interpreted that Newton is currently their starting quarterback — which has been the case through four practices, as Newton has led off every single team period — and he’ll have to continue to prove it’s his job. Both points can be true.
After Newton struggled in 2020, it seems most fans and members of the media cannot fathom there being no definitive quarterback competition in training camp.
Why All the Confusion?
Despite his second blunt statement on the matter in the past three months, it appears there is still a narrative that won’t die, which insists Jones is in a heated competition with Newton for the QB1 post.
Belichick said both Friday and Saturday, every training camp is a “clean slate,” which means every player has to prove themselves again. Because he made that statement in response to a question about the quarterback situation, right or wrong, it seemed to pump life into the thought that the Patriots were actively conducting a QB competition.
Even when Belichick said Newton was his quarterback on Saturday, his stance was contested–or at the very least–he was pressed for clarity.
Belichick seems to be describing a traditional training camp environment where he has a definite starter, but like every player in a starting position, Newton has to show he is still the best option for the job. However, there doesn’t appear to be any doubt in Belichick’s mind this is the case.
Could Belichick be on an entirely different page than most of the media? All this time Patriots beat writers and national NFL analysts have been pounding the Jones-over-Newton drum and creating the narrative that the former NFL MVP was fighting for his job–and possibly his career.
Yet, out of his own mouth, Belichick has now clearly stated on two occasions, his intentions to start Newton at quarterback. Barring injury or some sort of monumental collapse at training camp or preseason, should we be the least bit surprised when Newton is handed the ball ahead of Week 1 of the 2021 season?
After all, how many times does Belichick have to name his starter before people take him at his word? I guess some won’t believe it until the final press conference ahead of Week 1 when Belichick says for what might be the fourth time by this juncture, Cam is still our quarterback.