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Bill Belichick addresses Patriots’ addition of Cam Newton, says there was ‘mutual interest’

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Even as he enters his 21st season as the head coach of the New England Patriots, Bill Belichick is still experiencing some firsts. This summer will be the first time during his tenure in Foxborough that he’ll have a training camp battle to determine the starting quarterback position for the upcoming year. In 2000, it was Drew Bledsoe’s gig under center and Tom Brady later assumed the role in 2001 after Bledsoe went down due to injury midseason. From that point on, the job was firmly in the hands of Brady. 

Now, with Brady off with his new Bucs squad in Tampa Bay, Belichick will have to make a determination of who he’ll begin this new era of Patriots football with. For most of the offseason, it looked like second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham was going to have the inside track for the job with Brian Hoyer serving as his backup, but earlier this month New England made a big splash by signing former MVP Cam Newton to a one-year deal. 

“Things worked out,” Belichick told reporters during a videoconference on Friday regarding the Newton signing. “We spent quite a bit of time with Cam and he spent quite a bit of time with us. I think it was a mutual interest. [We spoke] with a number of people and [had] a number of conversations just trying to see how the fit would be and it was very positive on our end and I’m glad it worked out.” 

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Newton is by far the most decorated quarterback of the bunch with the Patriots and, when healthy, clearly the most talented. One of the main questions for Newton will be to see how he’s recovered from a Lisfranc fracture that kept him out the bulk of the 2019 season. If he has some rust to shake off or simply needs more time to get back to full speed, that could open a door for Stidham. If all things are equal, however, this is Newton’s job to lose. Just don’t tell Belichick that. 

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“That spot is the same as all the other spots on the team,” he said when asked about a quarterback competition. “We’ve got a long way to go and we’ll see how things turn out. I can’t control how players perform. That’s up to them. We’ll give everybody an opportunity and see what happens.” 

Belichick did note earlier this offseason that New England will cater the offense to fit the strengths of whoever is under center for the club in 2020, just as they did with Brady for the past two decades. While that may open the door for the offense to modernize a bit with Newton, now is not that time for those types of alterations. This period over training camp, as the head coach explained, is focused on getting back down to basics and building a foundation for later in the year. 

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“Everybody needs to learn certain fundamentals, certain basics, and every player no matter how long he’s played — whether he’s played two years or 20 years — there’s still a basic progression to training camp at that player’s position,” Belichick said. “That’s really what we’re going to do and that’s where we’re going to start and that’s what, in my opinion, needs to be done regardless of who the player is, what position he plays.”

He added: “It will be hard for any player to function well without doing those so I don’t think you start off in training camp with your football team putting in a triple-reverse and a double-reverse pass and things like that that might highlight a particular player or that type of thing. Those are the kinds of things that come down the road a little bit. 

“In order to be a good football team, you need to be good fundamentally, you need to be sound, everybody needs to be able to execute basic assignments, techniques, and make basic adjustments. Those transcend to everybody in every unit. I don’t think there’s any way around that. That’s what we’ve always done. That’s what we continue to do. I think that’s the way to do it. We’ve had a decent amount of success doing it that way and I just don’t see it happening any differently.”  

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As New England sets this base for the 2020 season, it’ll be up to Newton to show Belichick and the Patriots brass that he’s fully versed and up-to-speed with the basics enough to take the reins right out of the shoot in Week 1. 


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