With the game out of hand and many of Cam Newton's passes out of the reach of his New England Patriots receivers, head coach Bill Belichick sat down Newton in the third quarter in favor of Jarrett Stidham.
Neither produced in an unsettling 38-9 loss for the Patriots and neither was named starter for New England's Week 17 finale against the New York Jets, as Belichick essentially declined to answer the question.
"The game was over about 10, 15 minutes ago," Belichick said. "We worked on this game, we played the game. Haven't made any plans for next week, obviously. Game's 15 minutes old."
The Patriots pulled Newton and put in Stidham with 8:21 to go in the third quarter and trailing, 31-9. He ended the night 5-for-10 passing for 34 yards with a 57.9 rating along with four carries for 24 yards and a 9-yard touchdown that was easily the Pats' biggest highlight of the night.
"Obviously you want to have a better outing, but it wasn't," Newton said. "Just doing what I'm asked to do, trying to be the best player for this team that I can possibly be."
Stidham proceeded to complete 4 of 11 passes for 44 yards with a 49.1 rating.
As for the timing of the switch, Belichick alluded to his decision being more about opportunity for Stidham than a reaction to Newton's lack of productivity.
"To give Jarrett a chance to play," Belichick said. "We weren't playing very well and I felt like that was an opportunity to give him a chance to play. Cam did a good job for us, that wasn't the problem. We just weren't very competitive in the game."
With a decision yet to be made, Stidham made it clear he would enjoy an opportunity for a full game, but indicated that was an obvious answer for any pro.
"I think, you know, everybody in the game of football wants to be playing every single week," Stidham said. "So yeah, I would absolutely love to have that opportunity, but that's not in my control and I'm not going to focus on it."
With the Patriots having clinched their first losing season since 2000, the focus will likely be on who gets the start, though the most prevailing quandary is likely whether Newton or Stidham remain in New England's plans past Week 17 of 2020.