New England Patriots

Questions Abound In New England

December 11, 2020

To say the 2020 season has been a failure for the New England Patriots would be harsh. But it certainly hasn't been a successful campaign for Cam Newton's squad, either.

The Patriots currently sit at 6-7 after an ugly 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football, and Newton has been the focal point of the blame.

Newton passed for 119 yards in the loss before eventually being pulled in favor of backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

It has been a rough return to the NFL for Newton after missing the majority of 2019 due to a shoulder injury, and his struggles are exacerbated by the fact that he is following in the footsteps of Tom Brady.

The loss to the Rams snaps the Patriots' streak of 17 consecutive seasons of winning at least 10 games, and also presented the question of whether Newton is truly a diminshed version of his former MVP-self.

FOX Sports' Skip Bayless believes the majority of the blame for the ugly loss to the Rams, and the overall struggles this season, have to do with the roster coach Bill Belichick built.

"That team last night was overmatched by a far more talented football team. ... They just flatout got manhandled on both sides. They have nothing."

And there is some merit to Bayless' claims.

The Patriots didn't have a single wide receiver reach 50 yards against the Rams. For the season, their leading receiver is Damiere Byrd with just 566 yards.

But there is no denying Newton has to be better.

He has thrown for less than 150 yards in four of his last five games and has twice as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (5) on the season.

Even with his struggles, the Patriots are in no position to bench Newton because there doesn't appear to be a better option on the roster.

Stidham has only thrown 33 passes in 2020, and as Nick Wright documented on First Things First, he has been even worse than Newton.

"Jarrett Stidham has thrown 33 passes this year, three of them have been caught by the opposing team. So as bad as Cam has been, there is not the next quarterback of the Patriots on the roster, unless somehow it is Cam."

As Wright notes, Newton has been up and down since returning in Week 6 from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis in Week 4.

Still, it appears as though Belichick will ride this season out with Newton as the starter, even through his inconsistent play.

The Patriots have three games left to figure out what is truly left of Cam Newton.

The answers they find could not only determine how this season ends for them, but could shape the outlook of their future as well.

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