It was pretty apparent, but New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton confirmed what most of us should have seen during the Week 6 and 7 losses to the Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. Newton was not at his best when he returned from the COVID-19 reserve list. The former MVP confirmed it on Thursday.
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Newton: “I Felt Stagnant”
Newton tested positive for COVID-9 just before the Patriots were set to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4. He missed that game, his replacements Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham struggled mightily, and the Patriots wasted an excellent effort by the defense in a loss. The game against the Broncos was postponed after Stephon Gilmore also tested positive.
Newton would ultimately be cleared to return, but with the team having almost no time to practice, they looked horrible as a unit. Truthfully, Newton appeared to be the person most adversely impacted by the ordeal.
Against the Broncos, Newton completed 17 of 25 passes with no touchdowns and two interceptions. New England still had a chance to win the game late, but a miscommunication between Newton and Harry led to a costly incompletion that killed the Patriots’ hopes of pulling off a thrilling win.
The following week was one of the low points of the season. Against the 49ers, Newton looked like the walls were caving in as he was so ineffective, head coach Bill Belichick pulled him in favor of Stidham. Fortunately for Newton, Stidham continued to struggle against the interception bug, and Belichick quickly committed to Newton being the starter for next week and beyond.
In the following week, Newton had a much better game against the Buffalo Bills. He didn’t turn the ball over, completed 15 of 25 passes for 174 yards with no touchdowns. Unfortunately, the Patriots again had a chance to win late, but a fumble in the waning seconds killed New England’s hopes of a victory.
Newton got back on track against the New York Jets as he threw for 274 yards and ran for two scores. He also successfully led the team on a game-winning drive that was culminated by a last-second field goal from Nick Folk. Last week, Newton was strong and steady with a touchdown pass and another rushing score in the upset victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
It appears he might be back to the form he showed off in the first three weeks of the season when the Patriots were inches away from a 3-0 start to the season. Newton spoke to the media after Thursday’s practice and he talked about what he’s been feeling since returning from the COVID-19 reserve list.
“Ever since coming back from corona to be honest with you, I felt stagnant in my thought process,” Newton said when asked about his current status and development in the Patriots’ offense.
Some wondered if his feeling could be attributed to the supposed “COVID fog” that some who have had the virus describe.
“No, it’s nothing to it,” Newton said. “It’s just the fact that I wasn’t able to do anything for that stint while I was off and it showed. Coming back, pretty much dry and knowing that as this offense goes, it evolves. When I did come back, I just felt behind. The production here of late is nothing to blame more or less than me just taking ownership and responsibility that I just have to be better.”
Perhaps There is More Than One Thing at Play
I’m sure Newton felt some trepidation because he had been removed from the team’s normal flow for two weeks, but that said, something else appeared to be amiss. He didn’t look right physically, and it’s possible his body was a little off center.
In any case, it’s great to see him playing well again. He and the Patriots will be looking to run their win streak to three games on Sunday against the Houston Texans.