While there continues to be plenty of attention on the Patriots’ lack of offensive weapons, the focus over the last two weeks has shifted to the man throwing to those weapons: quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton had another rough game in Sunday’s embarrassing 33-6 loss to the 49ers, completing 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions for a 39.7 passer rating. On the season, Newton now has two passing touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns, seven interceptions and a 71.7 passer rating.
Appearing on The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, CBS analyst and WFAN host Boomer Esiason said that the whole Patriots offense is in trouble, and that it starts with Newton.
“The last two weeks have told a lot about the New England Patriots and who they are. And unfortunately, it does start with the quarterback,” Esiason said. “I don’t really care what anybody says. I played the position. I’ve looked like Cam Newton at times when I played. I know exactly how frustrated he is with his performance. He really has no answers. I don’t know if it’s COVID-19-related. It may be. I don’t know. I don’t know if it sapped his energy. I can’t really tell. But this is not the player we saw the first couple of weeks.”
Esiason said a lack of weapons or any other excuse doesn’t explain some of Newton’s mistakes, like underthrowing receivers, bouncing passes, throwing behind receivers, or throwing into double coverage.
“I said it at halftime yesterday -- it was brutal. It was a brutal first half,” Esiason said. “I can’t explain it. He’s 6-foot-5, and for some reason he was driving the ball into the ground yesterday in the first half. I thought towards the end of the first half, it looked like he got mad. He got mad at his performance, and if there were fans there he would’ve been booed off the field. And he actually started to throw the ball well. They had a completion, then they had a holding penalty, then he indiscriminately threw the ball down the middle of the field right into double coverage and it ends up with a pick.
“It’s just not good. It doesn’t look good. I know that Bill Belichick was emphatic after the game that he’s still our starter moving forward against the Bills this week. But it’s hard to explain. Most of us have gone through this. Some of us don’t, but most of us have gone through it, where you lose a little confidence. You’re not really sure about what you’re doing. You’re not sure about your new surroundings. And again, on top of this, the COVID-19 situation, the opt-outs, the offensive line being shuffled all over the place, the wide receivers all over the place.
“The wide receivers weren’t even really targeted yesterday, maybe but a couple times by Cam until Jarrett Stidham came in. There’s no tight end production at all on this offense. They’re in a really bad spot. I don’t want to paint a picture that’s rosy, or that’s too pessimistic, but when you look at the last two performances by this offense, against the Denver Broncos and then yesterday against San Francisco, I think we all see what we see. There’s no energy.”
The Patriots face the division-leading 5-2 Bills in Buffalo on Sunday at 1 p.m. A loss would drop the Patriots to 3.5 games back and seemingly end any hope they would have of winning a 12th straight AFC East title.