“Practice? We talking about practice.”
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“Never Cared About Practice As Much As I’ve Cared Since I’ve Been in New England”
Newton has been giving his all and sticking to the script with the Patriots. He plays hard and unselfish, and always has his teammates and even coaches’ backs when they are criticized. During a segment on the Greg Hill Show on WEEI, Newton talked about some of those things as well as his practice habits with the Patriots.
My practice habits this year have been more intensified than any other time in my life. I’ve been playing this game since I was 6, 7 years old and I’ve never cared about practice as much as I’ve cared about practice since I’ve been in New England.
I didn’t take this to mean Newton didn’t practice or take the process seriously before he got to New England. Instead, it feels like he has dedicated himself even more than before, and because of that, it has to be terribly frustrating to see the team’s record at 6-7.
Giving it Everything He’s Got, But is it Enough?
As I’ve mentioned, the effort clearly hasn’t been a problem for Newton. He’s battled through COVID-19, an abdomen injury, teammates, and his own inconsistent play. Still, he’s taking hits in the running and passing game, and done everything within his grasp and control to win football games.
Part of the blame lies on McDaniels’ shoulders. He has mostly relegated the Patriots to a college-style, run-dominant offense because it doesn’t appear as though he trusts Newton’s passing skills.
To this point, the approach has failed as many times as it has succeeded with Newton as the starter. If the season was over on Monday, the Patriots wouldn’t be a playoff team. Chances are slim they can change that over the final 3 games. The hopes got even bleaker on Monday night when the Baltimore Ravens pulled out a thrilling 47-42 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Even if the Patriots come up with wins over their divisional rivals, the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and New York Jets, they would still need a ton of help to make it to the playoffs.
What Could Be Next?
If the Patriots are mathematically eliminated at any point over the final three games of the season, I fully expect to see Bill Belichick turn to second-year-pro Jarrett Stidham to start for the rest of the season.
If Newton and the Patriots can continue to win and they get the requisite help from other teams, then Stidham may not get another chance to start or play. In any case, Newton has likely shown enough for another team to be willing to have him come in next season if the Patriots aren’t willing to bring him back for a second season.
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