Could New England Patriots use quarterback platoon this season?

By Matt Johnson
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

When the New England Patriots signed Cam Newton, many assumed he would automatically replace Tom Brady as the team’s starting quarterback. With the 2020 NFL season closing in, head coach Bill Belichick could be contemplating a bold strategy at quarterback this year.

As Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham battle it out in training camp for the opportunity to replace Brady, Belichick is admitting that he could be open to the idea of platooning both players this season.

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Who will start at quarterback for the Patriots?

The Patriots became the first team in NFL history to lose a former NFL MVP in free agency only to later sign one that same offseason. When healthy, Newton is an outstanding quarterback and he received full medical clearance from the Patriots before he hit the field.

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However, this organization loves Stidham. A fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft with a year in Josh McDaniels’ system, glowing reports came out this offseason about the 24-year-old quarterback.

The Patriots reportedly believe Stidham is ready to replace Brady and think they can win quickly with him under center. Even rival head coaches have offered glowing praise of the quarterback entering his second season in the NFL.

Recently, ESPN’s Mike Reiss suggested the team could deploy a platoon at quarterback to begin the 2020 season. While the idea might sound crazy, especially from an NFL team with such a storied history, Belichick already seems open to the move.

“It might. I always say, I’ll do what I think is best for the team, what gives us the best chance to win,” Belichick said, via ESPN. “Whatever that is, I would certainly consider it.”

Making a decision at quarterback is more difficult for the Patriots this season due to the cancellation of preseason games. Without loves live reps against other teams, Belichick is forced to evaluate Newton and Stidham based off their play in intrasquad scrimmages and in practice reps.

The idea of platooning quarterbacks would see New England deploy both quarterbacks early in the regular season. The Patriots’ 2020 schedule starts against the Miami Dolphins, a winnable game. Stidham could get the starting nod, thanks to his familiarity with the offense, while Newton comes in for certain situations and drives.

A quarterback platoon could give Newton time to learn New England’s scheme and could help him stay healthy. Meanwhile, the Patriots would have a great opportunity to evaluate Stidham to determine if he is ready to be a starting quarterback.

Of course, alternating quarterbacks is incredibly risky. While it may keep the defense off balance at times, it may also prevent New England’s offense from finding a consistent rhythm.

Stidham currently holds the early edge in the quarterback battle, but we don’t expect that to last for long. Newton is already drawing Belichick’s praise and developing chemistry with teammates. In the end, we’ll bet on the former NFL MVP to be the starting quarterback. With Newton as the starter, the Patriots will still have a shot to win the AFC East.