The New England Patriots‘ quarterback story took a turn on Friday. A Cam Newton injury led to a higher workload for two of the team’s other quarterbacks.
Jarrett Stidham and Mac Jones split the QB1 reps after Newton’s injury, and the former had what Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald described as a “perfect” day.
Every throw Stidham delivered during seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 passing periods found its target, including the one Jakob Johnson dropped.
Need we say more?
That does say a lot about Stidham’s showing, but The Athletic’s Jeff Howe gives a bit more details on a strong performance from the man Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard referred to as “an afterthought.”
Howe broke down Stidham’s day as followed:
Jarrett Stidham opened the day as the third quarterback in the rotation but was the No. 1 QB over the final two periods. He was clearly the best of the group during this practice, completing 13 of 14 passes in team drills, with Johnson’s drop sabotaging his perfect day. Stidham’s confidence was evident by his quick reads and releases, as well as his ability to handle the pass rush. He made the two best throws of the practice on deep dig routes to Zuber and Meyers.
Jones didn’t have his best day, but because he’s still so young in his career, it’s not considered a major deal. However, the surprising resurgence of Stidham is still noteworthy.
An Update on Newton’s Hand
Newton’s hand injury has been diagnosed as a slight bone bruise. It is considered to be a minor injury, but there are thoughts that he could miss the remaining OTAs and the mandatory mini-camp later this month.
If that’s the case, Newton probably wouldn’t practice again until July when training camp begins.
None of this is confirmed.
Those reports are based on speculation. The Patriots will continue to evaluate Newton over the next few days to gauge how the bruise is healing. The team was off on Saturday, June 5, so the 2015 NFL MVP will have a day of rest for the injury.
He could show up next week well enough to participate, and all of this will be much ado about nothing. On the flipside, he could be forced to sit until July, and Newton could potentially lose ground to Stidham and Jones in the QB race.
What are the Potential Long-Term Effects on the Patriots’ QB Picture?
Newton is the unquestioned No. 1 at this point, but it’s at least worth considering that a prolonged absence could close the gap between him and the other quarterbacks–especially if one or both of them continue to perform at a high level.
Consider this, Newton doesn’t have a lot of supporters amongst the local Boston media. Many are pining for the day when Jones is ready to supplant Newton as the team’s starter. Most aren’t as high on Stidham, though he still has a group of people who don’t believe he’s ever had a fair shot to win the job.
In any case, it’s tough to find talking heads and Patriots columnists who believe Newton has what it takes to lead the team in 2021. That could all change in a matter of weeks, as it did in 2020 when Newton led the team to an impressive 2-1 start before COVID derailed his season and most turned on him as he began to struggle.
The job is still Newton’s to lose, and the cries for him to go away will get louder or quieter depending on how he starts the season–assuming he’s healthy.