By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Time will tell how serious the Patriots are about Cam Newton being in a competition with the other quarterbacks. But the message from Newton and others is consistent: he is.
Media members flooded the WebEx conferences on Friday, as the Patriots introduced Newton and held virtual pressers with the other quarterbacks and the entire assistant coaching staff. It was beautiful chaos. Our own Rob “Hardy” Poole bled in somehow as he spoke on the Sports Hub airwaves. Someone talked about a graveyard vacation or something. A cacophony of furious keyboard typing.
But amid all the noise, a clear message emerged from everyone that spoke on the Patriots’ quarterback room in training camp: yes, it’s a competition. Just because Newton is a former MVP who played in a Super Bowl doesn’t mean he’s going to be handed the Patriots’ starting job.
“Well as far as competing, you compete every year,” Newton said. “We all are competing each and every day and I’ve been competing every single day. Doesn’t matter what the team was, because at the end of the day, you’re one game away [from losing your job].”
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To many, the notion of a “QB competition” should be met with dismissive snickers and insults. Facebook and Twitter commenters who didn’t read this will be particularly lively. The ones who quote the previous sentence and then repudiate the competition? Galaxy brains.
Let’s be fair. It’s always better to judge by actions rather than words. If Newton gets the first reps in training camp, despite being the newest to the Patriots’ system, it’s pretty clear who’s in the lead.
But Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham shouldn’t be expected to just take that lying down. They said the right things in their pressers. Stidham could have hemmed and hawed and fawned over Newton’s MVP pedigree without mentioning competition, but he did not. Is he ready to take that starting job?
“Absolutely. I think I am definitely ready,” Stidham said. “I put in a lot of work this offseason to really improve mentally, physically, in a lot of different areas. At the end of the day I am extremely excited to compete with Cam and Hoy [Brian Hoyer] as we go forward in training camp and getting to the season and things like that. I am really looking forward to the competition. I love competing in whatever it is. I am really looking forward to it.”
Don’t just crap on Hoyer, either. He looked like a man on a mission to be Tom Brady’s primary backup during the 2019 preseason and has by far the most experience in the Patriots’ system. Bill Belichick will play him if he feels Hoyer gives the Patriots the best chance to Move The Ball And Score Points™. Highly unlikely. But Hoyer used to competing for a job, as he’s done throughout his career.
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“For me, you’re still competing every day you go out,” Hoyer said. “Regardless of what the spot is, it’s always a competition. Bill said that numerous times, you’re going to earn what you get. For me, it doesn’t matter if there’s 15 guys in the room. I’m always competing. When Tom was here I was always competing for the starting job, too. Now, I was probably never going to get that but I always competed like I was going to try to beat him out. That was the only thing I could do to try and make myself better.
“I think the more good players you have in a room, a group, offense, defense, team, it’s always going to rise the level of everyone else up. It’s something I’ve taken a part of before and it’s something I look forward to.”
The quarterbacks and coaches have certainly met plenty of times on football matters. But it sounds like they’ve met on the message being sent publicly. It may be the best approach to get the most out of all three QBs.
Hopefully the actions match the words, because it will make for a fascinating training camp.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at email@example.com.