Film Analysis Experts Have Strong Words for Cam Newton’s Play

Getty Cam Newton

After the New England Patriots‘ 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday, it seems almost everyone is pointing the finger at Cam Newton.

I say almost everyone because there are two men who are paid to give their detailed, film-based analysis who aren’t putting the blame on the 31-year-old quarterback–at least not entirely.

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“What Did You Expect?”

The Film Room’s Brett Kollman has amassed 274,000 subscribers on YouTube because of his film breakdowns of players at every position in the game. He recently took to Twitter to defend Newton and he offered some statistical analysis to support his point.

According to Kollman, Newton has been accurate as a passer when given the opportunity, but it’s his supporting cast that has failed him.

By my eye, the Patriots’ wide receivers have improved over the course of the season, but still as NFL Network’s Troy Aikman put it on Thursday night, all of them “are playing a slot higher than they should be.” This is no real indictment on them, but it would be tough for any quarterback to look their best with this cast of receivers to throw to each week.

When you consider Newton has been more accurate than not, as Kollman’s references support, it’s hard to dispute the main idea of his point. Supporting cast does matter, and Newton doesn’t have a great one.

“WRs Are Killing Cam’s Process”

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, the premier football analytics firm in the country, had a similar take on Newton’s struggles this year.

This is a very important point, and I believe it’s one of the missing pieces in this conversation. Almost no one talks about the bad habits and insecurities that arise from playing with receivers that you don’t trust to get open or to even run routes correctly.

Newton has been an exemplary teammate all season. He’s held himself accountable and has never thrown any of his teammates or coaches under the bus. Still, it’s almost impossible not to recognize all of the factors.

Less-Than Empowering Playcalling

We get it, the Patriots are a run-first team.

Unfortunately, the lack of balance combined with the modest talent at wide receiver and tight end have Newton in a bind. He has very few opportunities to make plays through the air, and when he is throwing the football, his receivers are often not able to create the desired separation.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been calling one of the most boring and predictable schemes we’ve seen in the NFL for some time. There is nothing more detrimental to a quarterback (besides a poor offensive line) than less-than-stellar skill players and unimaginative playcalling. Unfortunately for Newton, he’s been bit by both bugs this season–and COVID-19.

It’s been a tough year for Newton who may not be physically capable of producing the kind of production he delivered when he won NFL MVP in 2015. However, in a better position, I’m convinced he could be performing a lot better than he has with New England.

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