This one was about as ugly as it gets. The New England Patriots were beaten in every aspect of the game on Thursday night as they took a 24-3 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams.
Cam Newton completed 9 of 16 passes for 116 yards and he threw a costly pick-6 after Rams’ defensive lineman Aaron Donald held Damien Harris just long enough to throw him off course on a screen pass. The slight delay was enough to make the pass off target and Kenny Young was there to pick it off and run in for the score.
Here is a look at the play that all but sealed the Patriots’ fate on Thursday.
Cam Newton finds Kenny Young on the screen for an 80-yard TD 😅pic.twitter.com/OXY2EuiPX2
— PFF (@PFF) December 11, 2020
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Newton Gets Blasted After the Loss
After another underwhelming passing performance, the media and many on Twitter didn’t hold back in their criticism of Newton. Take a look at some of what we heard after the loss.
I have had enough of Cam Newton
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 11, 2020
So far, cam newton has produced more points for the Rams than for the patriots.
— Tony Massarotti (@TonyMassarotti) December 11, 2020
Cam Newton looks bad. The skill position group around him is significantly worse. Even the OL got its ass kicked tonight. The Patriots have A LOT work to do this offseason.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 11, 2020
Cam Newton is not the Patriots future.
This is not controversial
— SAVAGE BOSTON🍀 (@SavageBoston) December 11, 2020
Grading Newton’s Play
The internet is merciless and often unfair.
We saw a bit of both in some of the tweets about Newton’s play. Did Newton look like an elite quarterback on Thursday? No, but there are a lot of things to take into consideration when evaluating his performance.
Despite the fact that the Patriots trailed for almost every minute of the three quarters Newton was in the game before Belichick lifted him in favor of Jarrett Stidham, he still only had 16 pass attempts.
That’s tough to figure out.
The pick-6 is on Newton, but not entirely. First, it was a great play by Donald to subtly hold Harris on the screen pass. Great players will make great plays sometimes. However, the rudimentary nature of the Patriots’ offense makes it a bit simple for defenses to handle as long as they aren’t overwhelmed in the trenches. With Donald and Michael Brockers anchoring things up front for the Rams, they can handle themselves against any team at the line of scrimmage.
To find success against the Rams’ defense, there must be more layers, and that simply wasn’t provided to Newton or even Stidham when he came into the game faced with what amounted to an impossible mission.
In totality, as far as it relates to Newton, I’d give him a C+ for his performance, but I almost want to call it an INC for incomplete because he’s not being allowed to play like an NFL quarterback.
Newton’s critics will argue the quarterback simply doesn’t have it anymore and that he’s a horrible passer. The latter has been proved wrong on several occasions this year, but their bottom line argument might be true.
The biggest problem is a conservative gameplan that isn’t allowing anyone to evaluate him fully. The Patriots and their coaching staff claim to trust Newton, but they are contradicting themselves with their playcalling.
The gig is up.
The league knows and they are making them pay. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is holding the entire team back by not giving Newton an opportunity to fail or succeed with a more balanced playbook, and that’s stagnating what could be a more definitive transition to Stidham if that’s what it comes to this season.
That’s a bigger problem than any pick-6 or loss passing total.
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