In his first year without Tom Brady as his quarterback, Julian Edelman has failed to maintain his previous level of production. Of course, a nagging knee injury has played a significant role in his inability to get open consistently for Cam Newton. With their top receiver clearly not at 100%, the New England Patriots have struggled mightily to put points on the scoreboard.
But on Thursday, a bad situation just became much worse. With Edelman undergoing knee surgery, Newton just suffered a devastating blow to his Patriots career. Because with his most accomplished receiver now unavailable, the 31-year-old doesn’t stand a chance of succeeding in New England.
The Patriots have major problems on offense
While TB12 and his deep group of pass-catchers continue to dominate in Tampa, Cam Newton and his collection of misfit toys have averaged a paltry 19.2 points per game. The former Carolina Panthers star appeared to be on the right track through his first two starts, but he has fallen off a cliff ever since.
Newton struggled against the Las Vegas Raiders and finished the day with a quarterback rating of 73.8. He then tested positive for COVID-19 and missed the Patriots’ matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Since returning to the lineup, the former No. 1 overall pick has looked like a guy who doesn’t belong in the league. Newton has thrown five interceptions in his last two games, including a three-pick outing in Sunday’s embarrassing 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Of course, New England’s lack of weapons certainly hasn’t helped. Julian Edelman leads the team with 21 catches for 315 yards. However, after catching eight passes for 179 yards against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2, the 34-year-old has totaled just eight receptions for 79 yards.
Meanwhile, N’Keal Harry continues to look like a massive miss. The 2019 first-round pick failed to make an impact as a rookie and has totaled just 19 catches for 172 yards and one touchdown. Rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene, who both arrived as third-round selections, have combined for a single catch. Overall, the Patriots have shown no rhythm on the offensive side of the ball through six games.
Julian Edelman just dealt a devastating blow to Cam Newton’s Patriots career
As if the Patriots could afford to lose any more weapons on offense, New England fans got a dose of bad news on Thursday. Ian Rapoport reported that Julian Edelman had surgery on his ailing knee on Thursday and will not be available against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
Moving forward, the Patriots do not know how many more games Edelman may miss. However, given his age and lengthy injury history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the former Super Bowl MVP sidelined for at least a few weeks.
For Cam Newton, this news represents a devastating blow to his Patriots career on many levels. Obviously, losing a player of Edelman’s caliber hurts. New England’s other wide receivers severely lack big-game experience and have done little to inspire confidence in the passing game.
Plus, Newton can’t afford to have another bad day at the office. Based on his last three outings, it’s fair to question whether the Patriots should bench him in favor of Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer. Another game full of turnovers and missed opportunities could be the final nail in Newton’s coffin. But with Edelman out of the lineup, it seems highly unlikely that he will be able to move the chains against a tough, physical Bills defense that kept the Patriots in check in their two 2019 matchups.
If New England loses on Sunday and falls further back in the AFC East standings, that may leave Bill Belichick with no choice but to make a change at quarterback. Ultimately, the loss of Edelman derails any chances of the Patriots turning around their woeful offense, at least this season.
New England should move on from Edelman and Newton sooner than later
With Julian Edelman and Cam Newton struggling to make an impact, the Patriots would be wise to move on from both players. But will the two aging stars still be around by the time the season ends?
In Edelman’s case, that obviously hinges on his health. If he can return to action, perhaps Belichick would consider shopping him to a playoff-caliber team in need of help at wide receiver. At this point, it would be best to move on from a player who clearly is on the downside of his career.
For Newton, his time in New England should come to an end after just one year. He does not appear to be a great fit from a schematic standpoint. Plus, the Patriots would be better suited to find a younger, higher-upside option via the NFL draft.
Let’s see if Edelman and Newton finish the season in New England, or if Bill Belichick decides to pull the plug earlier than expected.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.