Through all the excitement of another Sunday in the NFL, the Patriots’ performance was almost overlooked if not for the benching of Cam Newton.
To say Newton came out struggling would be putting it lightly. He stat line for the day was 9-of-15 for 98 yards and three interceptions.
Newton was quoted after the game saying he felt like he was pressing too much.
“The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, it’s going to be a permanent change,’”
he told WEEI of Boston.
After the departure of Tom Brady this past offseason, the Patriots were scraping together what was left of their team. It did not feel as if they had a hope until they were able to sign Newton for a low salary.
With a one-year, team friendly deal and a quarterback who was looking to rehabilitate his image after a rough exit in Carolina, it seemed like a no brainer.
Starting off the year, the Patriots looked like they had promise, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels utilizing Newton’s skill set to unlock his offense.
The team had a memorable against the Seattle Seahawks where Newton and Russell Wilson went toe-to-toe for the entirety of the game.
A couple weeks and a COVID shutdown later, the Patriots have been reeling. They are in desperate need of a spark on their roster. When asked if Newton was still experiencing a fog from his COVID layoff, he simply said,
“I have to play better.”
With all these problems on their hands, it becomes hard to predict whether or not the Patriots will be able to make a postseason push.
The AFC seems to be loaded this season with many of the top teams playing incredibly well so far.
Pittsburgh squeaked out a win against Tennesse, the Chiefs won in dominating fashion over Denver, Baltimore has been playing consistently well and the list goes on.
For New England to secure even a potential seven seed, they are going to have to look long and hard at their roster and their effort.
This benching could serve as the wake up call for Newton. For any NFL team, the effort and energy starts with the leader of the team at the quarterback position.
Watching Newton throughout the past offseason, it has been clear that he has learned to send the right messages as an individual and for his team.
Those messages need to now translate into results on the field of play. Newton is working with a very inexperienced group of offensive weapons (save for Julian Edelman), and he is going to have his work cut out for him in order to produce points for their team.
His personal rushing attack has been his best asset so far, and he seems to be running the ball as well as he did during his MVP season in Carolina. Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick will have to continue to find ways to capitalize on his running ability as well as get the receivers involved more.
For the first time in a long time, the New England Patriots have far more question marks for their team than they have answers. As the season continues to unfold, it would be expected for Belichick to work to find a solution to the many problems that his team is facing.
All of this begins and ends with Newton. He has owned up to his bad play and he will have a chance moving forward to continue to prove himself.
Belichick was quoted saying he was “absolutely” sticking with Newton for the starting job, so let’s see what he has to show for the NFL.