Belichick: Playing multiple QBs an option this season

Sports

New England Patriots quarterbacks Brian Hoyer, left, and Jarrett Stidham speak during an NFL football training camp practice, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Bill Belichick said he’s open to using a two-quarterback system this season, another example of how radically different the New England Patriots could look after Tom Brady’s departure.

Belichick was asked about platooning his quarterbacks before Wednesday’s practice. The longtime coach acknowledged he was considering the possibility, and the Patriots later used all three of their QBs during a single scrimmage series.

“I always say I’ll do what I think is best for the team, what gives us the best chance to win,” Belichick said about the prospect of rotating quarterbacks. “Whatever that is, I would certainly consider that.”

The three quarterbacks competing to be Brady’s successor — Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer — have different, and perhaps complementary, skill sets.

At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, Newton possesses size, athleticism and running ability along with an arm that accounted for 35 touchdown passes during his 2015 MVP season.

Hoyer has the most experience in the Patriots’ offense. He’s back for this third stint in New England after twice serving as Brady’s backup.

Stidham has youth and potential, having beaten out Hoyer as a rookie last season to be Brady’s No. 2. His quick grasp of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system is exciting to the coaching staff.

Playing to Brady’s strengths, the Patriots lined up with one running back, one tight end and three receivers — known as the 11 personnel grouping — more than 50% of the time last season.

Belichick said using multiple quarterbacks could lend itself to different formations.

“If it’s run an unbalanced line or double-unbalanced line or 23 personnel (two RBs, three tight ends) or whatever it is,” he said. “If it helps us win, then I would consider anything.”

Assuming he’s fully recovered from offseason foot surgery, Newton’s mobility is something McDaniels said would be a new tool for him.

“It’s certainly not something I’m accustomed to using a great deal but you use whatever the strengths of your players that are on the field allow you to use, to try to move the ball and score points,” he said.

McDaniels likened it to the different body types and skills of the Patriots’ receivers and tight ends over the years, from bigger targets like Randy Moss and Rob Gronkowski to smaller ones such as Wes Welker and Danny Amendola.

“Regardless of what the position is, I think you try to use their strengths to allow them to make good plays,” McDaniels said.

While rotating QBs might seem like a difficult adjustment for the rest of the offense, running back James White said it’s in keeping with how New England has approached things during his six seasons.

“I think coach McDaniels does a great job of being creative and dialing up new things to the strength of the players that he has,” White said. “It doesn’t matter what year it is, we always add new things to the offense and try to help us do our best out there and try to perform the best each and every week.

“Sometimes it can be for a certain opponent or for a certain player on our offense. … He’s a creative mind and each year we’re going to add new things that’s going to help us succeed.”

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Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at https://twitter.com/khightower

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