It didn’t look like Cam Newton could get much worse after his performance against the Denver Broncos, in which he threw for 157 yards and had two interceptions. Then, last Sunday happened. The Patriots quarterback threw for only 98 yards and suffered three interceptions before he was benched and replaced by Jarrett Stadium.
The loss dropped the Patriots to 2-4, with a matchup against the division-leading Buffalo Bills (5-2) up next. The performance also brought a lot of criticism upon Newton. The 31-year-old quarterback said he understands it all and calls this past week “humbling.”
On Thursday, Newton described his recent play as “trash” and said he’s learned a lot about the Patriots during this week in the wake of a three-game losing streak.
“Losing is not acceptable in this locker room, in this county, in this state, in this area, in this region, so, Cameron Newton, you need to pick your (expletive) up,” Newton said. “That’s what I learned.”
Heading into this week, Newton is ranked 29th in the NFL in passing yards (969), 31st in passing touchdowns (two), 30th in pass completions (88) and 30th in quarterback rating (71.7).
Newton described this season with the Patriots as a learning curve and notes his inability to grasp the offense fully as his big issue. He alluded to that after last weekend’s loss, when he said he felt that he was thinking instead of reacting. That was witnessed over the last two weeks, as Newton has held the ball for too long, missed open targets and struggled with accuracy.
Newton described the Patriots’ offense as “advanced” and “schematically driven.” What he meant was, as a quarterback, he’s supposed to throw the ball to a target depending on the defensive scheme in front of him. When he sees a certain defensive look, receivers are supposed to run a certain route. That’s why it’s imperative that he knows the offense — so he knows where the receivers are going based on the defense in front of them.
After testing positive for COVID-19, Newton missed not only a game but nearly two full weeks or practice. The missed time, he said, has led him to think more.
“These last two games have been one after the other where I’ve been more thinking than playing and reacting,” Newton said.
“I understand that type of football play is unacceptable. I’m all about putting the football team in the best position to win. That’s what I have to do here moving forward.
“I’m on a constant journey to perfection. Yeah, having these last couple of days at practice — whether it’s dry, rainy or whatever — my mentality has still been the same. I still want to control to make it a smoother transition leading the huddle and, by the time I say, ‘Hut,’ I know exactly what I’m supposed to do, where I’m supposed to go, how I’m supposed to get there and getting there.”
Newton’s job won’t get any easier this weekend in Buffalo. The Patriots reportedly won’t have Julian Edelman, who underwent a procedure on his knee Thursday morning. Receiver N’Keal Harry has also been out with a concussion. That leaves Newton with a receiver corps led by Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers. The quarterback said he has confidence in his teammates but he’s less worried about their play.
“I think I have my plate full with focusing on me,” Newton said. “I have all confidence in whoever is out there and whoever the read takes me, that’s where the ball’s going to go. … I’ve just got to be ready to rock and roll and get the ball out and make good decisions.”
For Newton, this week has been about “taking ownership” of his poor play and trying to give confidence to his teammates that, when a play is called, he’ll know what to do and how to react. He also said he understands the critics and he knows that, as embarrassing as it was to get benched last week, it’ll only get worse if his play doesn’t improve.
“When you played the way I played this week — terrible — you open the doors. This whole week was a humbling experience.
“Getting a tap on the shoulder was a humbling experience, saying, ‘Hey (we’re putting in Stidham).’ That’s all humbling. I’m not used to that. Now I’m at a crossroads that says, ‘Hey, if you don’t pick up your play, that’s going to be a permanent decision.’ ”
© 2020The Providence Journal (Providence, R.I.)