By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — In recent weeks and really for the entirety of the season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has stuck by Cam Newton as the starting quarterback. Last week, a terse Belichick even said that he was done taking questions on any potential quarterback change.
Now, with the Patriots officially eliminated from playoff contention, the topic has already resurfaced.
Belichick was asked on a conference call with New England reporters on Monday if the final two games of the regular season might be used as an opportunity to get some looks at certain backups or younger players in game situations.
“We’ll make an evaluation what the opportunities are. I mean, we’re still going to prepare and play as hard, play as well as we can on Monday night [vs. the Bills],” Belichick said. “But we’ll see how that all shakes out. It could be a possibility in certain situations.”
In a follow-up question, Belichick was asked directly if Jarrett Stidham might get some more opportunities at quarterback.
“Really, that’s the same question you just asked,” Belichick said. “So, we’ll see.”
When asked what Newton has shown to keep his grip on the starting job, Belichick spoke of “team questions we need to answer,” such as the run defense, the overall scoring issues, and other matters “from a bigger picture standpoint.”
“I don’t think this is about any one individual,” Belichick said.
And at the end of the call, Belichick was asked when the team would want to name Stidham as the starter this week, in terms of ideal preparation time. Based on his answer, it doesn’t sound like such a question will have relevance.
“We haven’t spent any time frame on that. So not really … I don’t really see it going that way,” Belichick said. “We’ll go through our normal weekly process and make the decisions that we feel are best for the game in everything.”
Newton has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 2,381 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while rushing for 489 yards and 11 touchdowns. He ranks 25th in the NFL in passing yards and is tied for 36th in passing touchdowns.
In his weekly radio interview on WEEI, Newton said he wasn’t going to spend much time thinking about potentially being moved into a backup role.
“I’m gonna leave it up to the people I’ve been leaving it up to since day one,” Newton said. “I’m still on the 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.”