Let’s just say New England Patriots fans expected much more from Cam Newton this season. The former league MVP has had some solid performances, but his overall play has been underwhelming since he joined forces with Bill Belichick.
On Thursday, the 31-year-old quarterback addressed the obvious reason behind his recent struggles. And if the Patriots have any shot of turning around their season, they’ll need Newton to rediscover his prime form before it’s too late.
Cam Newton hasn’t put up great numbers over the last month
The month of October did not turn out to be a good one for Cam Newton. In the Patriots’ 18-12 loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 6, he threw two interceptions, fumbled twice, and finished the day with just 157 passing yards.
The following week, the former Carolina Panthers star looked like he didn’t belong on an NFL field. San Francisco 49ers fans watched in glee as their defense stifled New England’s offense. Newton completed just nine passes to his own teammates. Meanwhile, he threw three more picks in an embarrassing 33-6 loss at Gillette Stadium.
He kicked off the month of November by committing a costly error that thwarted his team’s comeback attempt. With the Patriots driving with a chance to win the game, Newton fumbled away a potential scoring opportunity. The Buffalo Bills held on to win the important divisional game by just three points.
Newton addresses the obvious reason for his recent struggles
Ultimately, Cam Newton knows he has to improve in order for the Patriots to keep winning games. And in his Thursday video conference with the media, he addressed the obvious reason for his recent struggles.
“Ever since coming back from corona, to be honest with you, I felt stagnant in my thought process,” Newton explained. “The play’s pre-snap production wasn’t happening fast enough for me in games. Did it happen in practice? Yeah. But still not fast enough. And even still now, I can get better.”
While the veteran quarterback refused to use “COVID fog” as a reason for his issues, he did clarify how his bout with COVID-19 impacted his job.
“It’s just the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything for that stint while was off, and it showed,” Newton said. “Coming back pretty much dry and knowing that as this offense goes, it evolves. And the mastermind behind everything with Josh [McDaniels], his mind doesn’t necessarily stop.
Still, he won’t let that be an excuse for his play.
“Coming back from (COVID), when I did come back, I just felt behind,” Newton said. “And the production here of late is nothing to blame more or less than me just taking ownership and responsibility that I’ve just got to be better.”
Can the former MVP lead the Patriots to a postseason berth?
At 4-5, the Patriots can’t afford to lose many more games if they want to make the playoffs. And in order for New England to experience a second-half surge, Cam Newton will have to find a way to make more plays in the passing game.
That’s where Josh McDaniels comes into play.
As one of the most creative play designers in the NFL, Bill Belichick’s longtime offensive coordinator needs to get the receivers and tight ends more involved. N’Keal Harry didn’t get targeted once against Baltimore. The second-year wideout needs to get thrown in the fire more and receive more opportunities to make plays down the field.
Jakobi Meyers should continue to get featured heavily moving forward. Despite not having great physical attributes, the former quarterback has a knack for getting open and he rarely drops the ball.
Plus, the Patriots could still get Julian Edelman back in the lineup. The former Super Bowl MVP has missed time with a knee issue, but he could get activated off injured reserve soon.
New England has to be able to move the ball through the air during its final seven games. If not, the team has no shot at making the playoffs.
Can Cam Newton rise to the challenge? Or will he continue to struggle to throw the ball the rest of the way?
Let’s see if No. 1 starts to play like a QB1 sooner than later.