Cam Newton did not hold back in critiquing himself during his weekly press conference on Thursday.
The Patriots quarterback did not have the best showing in last Sunday’s 18-12 loss to the Broncos. In his first game back since testing positive for COVID-19, Newton completed 17 of 25 passes for just 157 yards and had two interceptions. He also had a 51.7 passer rating in Sunday’s game, which is his lowest passer rating in a game since 2017.
It marks the second consecutive game that Newton had an unimpressive showing. In the Week 3 win over the Raiders, Newton completed 17 of 28 passes for 162 yards and had a touchdown and an interception.
“I just haven’t been good,” Newton said of his play over the last couple of games. “And I haven’t matched enough good plays together for my liking. And that’s what it comes down to. And when I mean good plays, I mean right reads, I mean ball positioning, I mean making guys miss — just the whole gamut of how I play. And I know what I’m capable of, and my standard is very high, and I haven’t been meeting it — my personal standard. So that’s how I feel.”
The Patriots have certainly dealt with their fair share of injuries and COVID-related issues, which may have contributed to Sunday’s poor offensive showing. Just on the offensive side of the ball, center David Andrews (thumb), guard Shaq Mason (calf/COVID), offensive lineman James Ferentz (COVID), and running back Sony Michel (quad/COVID) were all out for Sunday’s game. Offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemanore was also injured during Sunday’s game and subsequently placed on injured reserve Wednesday with an ankle injury.
Some help appears to be on the way as Andrews returned to practice Wednesday and Mason was activated from the COVID-IR list. Newton, who was sacked four times against the Broncos, is happy to see some guys come back but thinks the team should still perform well no matter who is on the field.
“Our excuse basket is running real low,” Newton said. “We’re getting guys back we missed for weeks, and even though we’re missing a couple other guys, we’ve got enough to compete with anybody — and I mean anybody.”
For Newton, he doesn’t think the way to succeed is determined by the opponent – which is the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers this week – but rather it’s determined by how well the Patriots execute.
“For us it’s not necessarily about the team that we’re facing. It’s just about us and accepting the challenge of saying we haven’t played a turnover-free game yet,” Newton said. “Let’s see what that looks like. It’s more or less saying like, let’s get back to getting into a weekly routine, from each point of emphasis, from early downs, third downs, red zone, coaching points on this, that and the third, and having the ability to go out there and practice.
“So for us, it’s not necessarily the team that we’re playing, more or less than our preparation going into the game and executing it when given the chance.”
The Patriots actually had some time this week to work on some of those issues, like turnovers, which they’ve had seven of over their last two games. For the first time since the leadup to their Week 4 matchup against the Chiefs, the Patriots had two straight days of practice – and barring any COVID-19 setbacks – will have a third practice on Friday.
With the COVID-19 outbreak, the team has had an irregular practice schedule since their Week 4 loss to the Chiefs.
“It’s almost surreal,” Newton said of being able to practice this week. “But you know, the fact that we’re able to practice, I think that everyone’s getting back into their normal routines, and that’s big for us. Personally, being in my position, it’s one thing to go over your reads and it’s another thing to go over your reads and get a good look at it. So I know we hope it pays dividends come Sunday and we’re expecting big things from the offense.”
Newton and the Patriots hope to get back on the right track when they host the 49ers on Sunday at 4:25 p.m.
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