Patriots: Newton’s absence should end the QB competition, but it probably won’t

We got 397 words from coach Belichick on Tuesday morning, that’s it.

That’s all the media got from Belichick prior to the morning practice as he was peppered with questions regarding Cam Newton and what his situation means for Mac Jones. Any other coach in the NFL probably tries to defuse the situation with some honesty, but Belichick’s unwillingness to have actual conversations with the media only fuels speculation even more.

The oddest part of what happened on Monday was the fact he was so upbeat and positive during his Zoom session in the morning. You’ve got to think he knew about Newton’s situation beforehand, but he was overly positive even by Belichick standards.

Belichick opened up Tuesday morning’s in-person presser with another generic training camp statement before the peppering came.

“Another good training camp day for us. Follow up from yesterday,” he said. “Keep working on things that we need to work on and look forward to working with the Giants tomorrow. Hopefully we can keep stacking these days together and continue to have a good week, which we need to do. Work on some things different than last week, but that’s kind of the normal progression of training camp, so we’ll see. Hopefully have a good week this week.”

It’s clear that vaccinations are going to be a topic of discussion and point of conation in locker rooms throughout the season, so it’s worth wondering whether or not a player’s vaccination status would ultimately come in to play with any of Belichick’s decisions regarding the roster, right?

“The league rules are the league rules. We’ll be compliant with them. Whatever they are, they are,” he said. Belichick didn’t budge when pushed on it.  “This is similar to what it was last year, so we dealt with it last year.”

There’s no doubt that Cam Newton probably isn’t the only Patriots player that hasn’t been vaccinated or not. Whether you believe in it or not is completely irrelevant, what’s important to remember here is that as an employee of the Patriots and more importantly as a teammate that’s being depended on heavily to help this team win, he’s now putting that ability in jeopardy. 

“Every team has got the same situation,” Belichick said when asked if unvaccinated players put the team at a disadvantage. Are they though? Teams like Buffalo and Baltimore might be, but there are also a lot of other teams who don’t have selfish players putting their teams chances at risk by not getting it. Again, I am not making this a vaccine piece, but at some point when does Newton just become completely unreliable?

Newton is expected to be back for the second joint practice with the Giants, but he’s missing some extremely valuable time this week, opening the door for Jones.

“Yeah. Of course,” Belichick said when asked if Newton is at a disadvantage being away from some critical practices this week. “If you couldn’t gain anything by practicing, then why would we practice?” Belichick added.

Jones had the day all to himself for the second time on Tuesday and prior to the morning session Bill was asked if it was a big day for the rookie.

“It is,” he said directly. I still don’t believe Jones has a chance to change Belichick’s mind unless Newton continues to leave himself unavailable, but this week could go a long way into expediting the process of Jones eventually starting.

“We’ll evaluate everything the way we always do based on the information we have,” Belichick said when asked if the absence would effect the evaluation process on Newton.

Whether it does or not remains to be seen, but it sure as hell should. Jones has made enough strides on the field to make this a legitimate competition and now Newton’s remarkable willingness to put his job at risk – no matter what he traveled for – should be enough to tell you he’s not the leader this team needs.