Bill Belichick hasn't revealed who he plans to start at quarterback for the New England Patriots' upcoming season opener -- not even to the quarterbacks themselves, apparently.
Cam Newton told reporters Belichick hasn't given any confirmation about whether he'd be starting the Patriots' Week 1 matchup against the Miami Dolphins on September 12.
"No. You know he hasn't said that. So for you to just ask that question, you know, it is what it is," Newton said after the Patriots' joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at the NovaCare Complex on Monday (August 16) via ESPN. "Every single day, I'm coming out here with the anticipation to just get better, and that's the only thing that I can do. So I can control that."
Belichick has reiterated that the job was Newton's to lose until proven otherwise. One could argue that an example was first-round pick Mac Jones' impressive preseason debut on Friday, which saw the former University of Alabama standout throw for 87 yards on 13 of 19 passing, which would have included a would-be touchdown pass to Kristian Wilkerson in the second quarter.
Jones also received a thunderous ovation from the Patriots fans at Gillette Stadium when he entered Thursday's game.
Newton has taken all his reps with the No. 1 offense throughout training camp and preseason, throwing for 49 yards on 4 of 7 passing. The former NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowler told reporters he isn't taking the uncertainty personally.
"I do know those things like that, I can't worry about. Because each and every day, I don't necessarily care about who's starting. I mostly care about making sure I put the best product out there for me.
"I know Mac is feeling the same, and I know Brian is feeling the same way, and everyone else, going down each and every position. As far as Week 1, we have so much to worry about prior to Week 1; that's where my focus is right now."
In June, Belichick credited Newton as being "way ahead of where he was last year" during the team's minicamp session this week.
“Yeah, well, Cam is way ahead of where he was last year at this time, there’s no question about that, as you would expect,” Bill Belichick said on Tuesday morning ahead of the Patriots' second minicamp practice via CBS Boston. “He has a good year of experience under his belt, and we’ll start the process at the beginning, and not being in catch-up mode like he was last year.”
Newton didn't sign with New England until June 28, 2020, but teams didn't hold OTAs or minicamps due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, so the former NFL MVP didn't miss any practice time.
However, a short window to learn the Patriots' playbook, as well as injuries to himself and key offensive teammates, led to struggles from the veteran quarterback as he looked to have a career resurgence in New England.
“I mean he was really just starting at this point last season, but he’s well ahead of that, just from the year of experience and from the success of building blocks that he’s been able to stack up,” Belichick said. “Like all the players that have been here since the start of the OTA and the offseason program back in April, they’ve been able to stack those days and those learning experiences together, ask questions on things that they need clarification on, and build to the next level when they’re ready to put another put another brick on the pile.”
In March, the Patriots re-signed Newton, despite a disappointing first season with the franchise. The former NFL MVP threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions while going 7-8 as a starter in 15 games.
Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract "worth up to $13.6 million," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Patriots finished the 2020 season with a 7-9 overall record, having previously won the AFC East during 11 consecutive seasons.
Jones led Alabama to a College Football National Championship and was third in the Heisman voting behind teammate DeVonta Smith and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence during his lone season as Alabama's full-time starting quarterback.
Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, and four interceptions on 311 of 402 passing -- while also recording one rushing touchdown -- while leading the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record in 2020.
Jones also made four starts in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa following a season-ending injury in 2019.