The Cam Newton Hype Train™ has slowed down significantly over the last few weeks. Following his positive Coronavirus test and subsequent stint on the league’s reserve list, the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback has struggled: in the three games since his return, the Newton-led offense scored only 39 total points while he turned the football over six times and failed to get into a consistent rhythm.
Once he does that, however, he can still be a scary player — at least according to the head coach of the Patriots’ next opponent. The New York Jets’ Adam Gase recently spoke about Newton, and despite his recent struggles praised his abilities to put pressure on a defense.
“It’s really been problematic for other teams when he’s run the ball,” Gase said during a media conference call. “They’re doing the zone read stuff. When he’s pulling it down and scrambling and creating first downs that way, that’s been problematic. He’s hit some good throws in some tight windows. I think it’s just we have to make sure that he doesn’t get in a great rhythm. That’s the last thing you want to have happen with him.
“I’ve played him a few times in the past when he was at Carolina. I’ve seen him get really hot, and that’s the last thing you need. If he gets in a great rhythm that’s when it gets really scary.”
Newton hasn’t been able to get into much of a rhythm after a solid start to his Patriots tenure. Over the three games before his positive Covid-19 test, he completed 62 of 91 pass attempts for 714 yards as well as two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also was sacked five times, and registered 35 rushing attempts for 149 yards and four scores. While his yardage numbers as a runner have improved over the last three weeks, his passing has deteriorated.
Newton did gain 149 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, but he also completed only 41 of 65 pass attempts for 429 yards and five interceptions. Turnovers have been the biggest but far from the only problem for the former league MVP.
“Even at the beginning of the year, I think they were figuring out their passing game, what was best to do there,” said Gase about the Patriots’ Newton-led aerial attack. “I thought there was some games he played really well in. The Seattle game, watching him in that one, some impressive things occurred in that game and I thought he played his [tail] off in that game. I mean he really helped them and gave them a chance to win that thing.
“The last couple games I think he’s just trying to get back into that rhythm. I know he was on the Covid list and he missed a couple weeks there. I think anytime that you miss a couple weeks in-season, sometimes it takes a second to kind of get your rhythm back.”
Now, Gase and his team will try to prevent Newton from getting into a rhythm again. Luckily for the Patriots, however, they have not been able to do that to any quarterback faced so far: New York is entering the Monday night contest with the worst record in the NFL at 0-8, and its defense is ranked in the bottom third in every major passing category.
If there ever is a game for New England to find its offensive rhythm again, it is this one.
Of course, the Patriots did show some signs of life again during last week’s loss versus the Buffalo Bills. While the unit again started slowly and eventually saw its comeback bid fail short because of a Newton fumble, its running and passing game looked much improved over the second half. If New England can build on this foundation and continue to take care of the football, the team should be in a good position to improve to 3-5 on the year.