The New England Patriots are coming off a disappointing 18-12 loss against the Denver Broncos that saw the offense struggle for most of the day. Whether it was sustaining drives, holding onto the football, or simply making positive plays on a consistent basis, the unit failed to provide any real help to a defense that kept its opponent without a touchdown and forced two late takeaways to potentially sway momentum.
Needless to say that it needs to improve drastically going up against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Luckily for the Patriots, they are in a more favorable position to do that this week: not only are they looking at a normal preparation schedule again after the team’s Covid-19 outbreak severely limited practice time over the last two weeks, they are also close to having starting offensive linemen David Andrews and Shaq Mason back on the field.
Needless to say, the Patriots won’t have any excuses going up against San Francisco — an opinion shared by quarterback Cam Newton.
““For us, as an offense, we know that our excuse basket is running real low. We’re getting guys back that we missed for weeks. Even though we’re missing a couple other guys, we got enough to compete with anybody — and I mean, anybody,” Newton said during a media conference call on Thursday.
“Everybody’s going back to their normal routines. That’s big for us. Me personally, being in my position, it’s one thing to go over your reads; it’s another thing to go over your reads and get a good look at it. We hope it pays dividends come Sunday, and we’re expecting big things from not only the offense but a good complementary game of football for us.”
Complementary football has been a problem for the Patriots recently, with the offense in particular struggling. While Newton’s absence in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs was a main factor, the team’s personnel turnover along the offensive line and lack of practice time all contributed to New England’s offensive issues versus the Broncos last Sunday.
Now, the Patriots will need to find a way to get over them while in a different position.
“It’s just about us accepting the challenge of saying ‘We haven’t played a turnover-free game yet.’ Let’s see what that looks like,” said Newton. “It’s more or less saying, ‘Let’s get back to getting into a weekly routine from each point of emphasis from early downs, third downs, red zone, coaching points and this, that and the third.’ And having the ability to go out there and practice. 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.”
Newton himself, meanwhile, has not taken advantage of his opportunities after an encouraging performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 2. While he still had his moments as a ball-carrier, his passing was not up to the same level: he did complete 64.1 percent of his passing attempts against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3 and the Broncos on Sunday but gained only a combined 319 yards through the air to go along with a touchdown as well as three interceptions.
The former league MVP was therefore rather critical of himself on Thursday.”
“I just haven’t been good, and I haven’t matched enough good plays together for my liking,2 he said. “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. I know what I’m capable of, and my standard is very high, and I haven’t been meeting my personal standard.”
The return of players such as Andrews and Mason should help, as should the increased practice opportunities. However, Newton himself needs to make the most out of every chance he gets whether it is a practice or game setting. Otherwise, the Patriots’ lackluster performance against the Broncos might have been a taste of what lies ahead against a talented San Francisco defense.