BOSTON (CBS) — Last week, an angry Bill Belichick had had enough of being asked about the quarterback situation in New England. He fiercely told reporters that if the team had any update at the position, he’d be the one the tell reporters about it — so stop asking!

On Tuesday morning, after another lackluster showing from Cam Newton and another relief appearance from Jarrett Stidham in Monday night’s blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, reporters circled the wagons again. But this time around, they knew better than to outright ask Belichick if he was making a change at the most important position.

Instead, Belichick was asked if he had that update on the quarterback discussion.

“No, I don’t think so,” he responded when hit with the roundabout query.

But by Tuesday afternoon, that changed every so slightly. When asked if Newton will start in Week 17 during his weekly radio interview on WEEI, Belichick opened the door just a little bit for a potential change.

“I would imagine,” he responded when asked if Newton would start. “We’re going through that now, so we’ll see.”

Belichick didn’t really have much to add to discussions about New England’s offensive struggles this season, just saying that the team was focused on their Week 17 game with the 2-13 New York Jets. Asked why he didn’t think Newton was the offense’s problems during his radio appearance, Belichick said that the QB “did what we asked him to do.”

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had plenty to say about Newton on Tuesday morning though, and once again praised the quarterback for his professionalism and leadership. McDaniels would not place the blame for New England’s offensive woes on Newton’s shoulders, and took the brunt of the blame himself.

“Cam has done a tremendous job,” started McDaniels. “He studies, he works extremely hard – as hard as any player that I’ve coached. He comes in prepared each day. He prepares hard for every practice, every session we have. He’s ready to go each week at the game and gives us everything he’s got. To me, you can’t attach your self-worth and all that stuff to the result of a game or one certain season. Cam has done a lot for a long time and he has given us everything he’s got. There is nothing else I could ask for as a coach.

“Have there been mistakes? Yeah, that is across the board, no question about it,” McDaniels continued. “Our whole group, we need better from. That’s my job, so we need to do a better job to figure that out. Putting them  in positions to be successful and coaching them properly, and obviously being able to make more plays and score more points.

“But as far as Cam Newton is concerned, he’s earned the respect of everyone in this building, every coach and player,” said McDaniels. “The way we feel about him won’t change.”

The calls to replace Newton with Jarrett Stidham are just getting louder heading into the final week of the regular season. At 6-9 and with nothing left to really play for, most believe it’s in the Patriots’ best interest to see what the second-year QB can do with a full week of practice and a full game as New England’s starter. The team could almost use Week 17 as an extra preseason game for 2021.

But McDaniels scoffed at that notion, saying too many players put in hard work for the 2020 season to treat any game as such.

“Absolutely not. There are a lot of guys who have worked their ass off all season long and we’re not going to relegate a division game during the regular season to that,” he said vehemently. “That wouldn’t be fair to people who have worked their butt off all season long to compete like that.”

Even after a frustrating 38-9 loss on Monday night, the Patriots don’t think any less of a meaningless Week 17 tilt.

“We don’t have a lot of time to be disappointed and frustrated. You do that in the moment when you lack success and don’t win, but you move forward and you have to give the players hat they deserve; a great days work and an opportunity to be successful the next day,” said McDaniels. “That’s what they give us that that’s what we give them every day.”

CBSBoston.com Staff