So, Cam Newton is the Patriots starter now.
June 28, 2020.
I should have seen this coming. Nothing that happens between now and Dec. 31 should surprise me. Global pandemic? Tom Brady leaves New England? Murder hornets?
Sure, pile it on.
Like Mike Tyson after he bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off (23 years ago last Saturday) nothing should surprise me about 2020. Masks, NBA games in an Orlando bubble (Moors vs. “Moops”) and spending a Saturday night watching a Garth Brooks concert laid out in the bed of my truck. The new normal has become more normal.
Then the Patriots signed Cam Newton. Like the ending to “The Sopranos,” it makes all the sense in the world and absolutely none at the exact same time.
Absolutely no sense at all: There have never been two more diametrically opposed forces in the universe than the respective postgame interviews of Cam Newton and Bill Belichick.
Newton dresses like he shops at Willy Wonka’s Big & Tall shop and deeply pontificates about whatever scribes volley toward him. Belichick wears one of his three Columbia button-ups and swats reporters’ questions back into their faces like he’s Dikembe Mutombo in the GEICO insurance commercial.
Hey, that’s fine. I wouldn’t expect a coach approaching his 70s and an NFL quarterback to have the same media personas but, golly, how is this going to work?
Cam Newton has been one of the most athletic quarterbacks in NFL history, full stop. Newton can run, he can leap over the pile and (even with a huge wind-up) can flat out throw a football … I think. It was troubling to see Newton’s throws to start the 2019 season that saw him only play two games.
Cam denied a shoulder injury all offseason, but in the first two games there was no denying what was right there on the tape. This was not the same quarterback who won an MVP just four years earlier.
However, if we know anything about Bill Belichick, it is that if something isn’t working, he is not afraid to pull the plug. If things don’t work out with Cam Newton in training camp and his arm isn’t back to 100 percent, I think (not knowing what the guaranteed money is) that Bill would go back to the original plan and roll the dice with Stidham.
For the small money they are reportedly giving Newton, it’s not even a gamble. It’s a flyer on a former MVP that may or may not work. If it works out, great! You could still win the division. If it doesn’t work, Newton is off the books in January.
All the sense in the world: The Patriots were going to seemingly go into the 2020 season (We’re having it, we’re having football. They’re going to play games and wear uniforms and you can gamble on it and everything, WE’RE HAVING A SEASON, YOU HEAR ME?!).
Were the Patriots going to go into the season with Stidham and Hoyer as the only quarterbacks on the roster? One is a second-year guy who threw more touchdowns to the New York Jets than Luke Falk or Trevor Siemian (3 starts, 0 touchdowns, 3 picks). Stidham threw a pick-6 to Jamal Adams.
Could the Patriots start a season hoping that Stidham won the job from Hoyer and, if not, begin an NFL season with Hoyer under center? They would look like they were tanking for Trevor Lawrence (not that there’s anything wrong with that). And as we have heard the past 4 months: “Bill Belichick will not tank!”
One-year deal, $7.5 million for a former league MVP who just turned 31? Why wouldn’t you do that?
It should not be lost on anybody during these tumultuous times that the Patriots will begin the season with a Black starting quarterback for the first time in team history. This is a huge moment for the New England Patriots.
Sterling Pingree is the senior staff writer for Jeff Solari’s Sports Chowdah newsletter and a co-host of the 3 Point Stance Podcast with NFL veteran Mike DeVito and Aaron Jackson. An avid golfer, Pingree has been a member for more than a decade at Bangor Muni. He is a native of Kingfield and was a 4-year letterman in basketball and baseball at Mount Abram High School.