The New England Patriots wildly inconsistent offense this year has been rather, well, consistent. The 6-7 Patriots currently sit near the top of the league in several rushing statistics and percentages, as they have made it clear they hope to pound the football in order to win games.
In Thursday’s 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, a sequence of running plays seemed to define the Patriots’ 2020 season. With a first-and-goal on the six-yard line, New England turned the football over on downs after four straight runs, failing to convert their best opportunity of the night into a touchdown.
Appearing on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show Monday morning, Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was asked about the play calling from offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Newton had no gripes with McDaniels and instead defended his play-caller for nearly four minutes.
“One thing that is not about to happen, and let me be perfectly clear, you’re not about to create any type of division between me and Josh McDaniels,” Newton said. “You’re talking to a person who, No. 1 respects this opportunity first and foremost and that’s talking Coach [Bill] Belichick, that’s talking in regards of Josh McDaniels, obviously Robert Kraft, and even Jedd [Fisch]. I think that would be selfish of me to kind of indirectly point the finger when here is a person who is putting our team in the best situation to win.
“For the most part, me and Josh’s relationship has grown, obviously, while I’ve been here. For me to kind of know him, and know how his theory and thinking is, it’s been just something I’ve even attached to myself even more. He’s a very passionate person that I would never second-guess his theory, no matter what it is — and yeah, was it the play-calling? There’s been times where, as a player, you kind of bail your coach out because of the plays that you may make. But more times than not, Josh has bailed the whole team out because of his theory and his in-game adjustments. So, it’s a give-and-take.”
Through 14 weeks, the Patriots currently have ran the ball more than any other team in the NFL. New England’s 52 percent run rate sits at 31st in the league, well above the 42 percent league average. While heavy criticism of McDaniels’ play-calling has come with this, Newton disagrees, as he knows they are willing to do whatever it takes to win football games.
“Yeah, there is some division right now,” Newton went on to add while appearing on WEEI. “I’m not sure what’s being said in the fan base. I only can assume, and things like that. It’s you guys’ job to probe and pick and things like that. And I respect that. But yet at the same time, you have guys in this locker room, including myself, that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win a football game. And when you don’t get the outcome that you’re desperately searching for, yeah, it hurts. Yeah, you take it personally. Yeah, you need time to kind of debrief.
“But for me to sit up here and throw a person that I admire, in Josh, under the bus and say, ‘He should have called more passes,’ no, I’m not going to do that, man. I’m not going to do that. Because I know just as much as the energy that I know goes into me wanting to win, I know Josh shares the same thing. And I know he wants to put this team in the best situation to win. And that’s the only thing you can ask for.”
With three games remaining on the schedule, the Patriots will need some help if they hope to sneak into the playoffs, and more importantly, New England will have win their three remaining divisional games. Despite the slime chances, there has been no quit in this Patriots team, as they are still practicing and preparing as hard as they’ve been all season.
“I do not want the thought or the theory to think that there hasn’t been this must-win attitude since Week 6,” Newton said. “And yeah, we’re coming up short. We did things we know we shouldn’t have done, but you still cannot negate the fact that guys are busting their tails with preparation week-in and week-out and doing things [above] and beyond. We’re just not getting the results that we’re needing. And that’s life. What happens when you study so hard for an exam and you don’t get the grade that you’re searching for? Or XYZ.
“My practice habits this year have been more intensified than any other time in my life. I have been playing this game since I was six, seven years old and I have never cared about practice as much as I’ve cared about practice since I’ve been in New England. You can’t say just because you don’t practice good and you don’t play good because that hasn’t been the case. My practice habits have increased from watching film, to caring about each and every rep, to working out, taking on the things you have to do on and off the field from nutrition, to rehab and everything else.
“For our record to be 6-7 right now, yeah it’s extremely frustrating, but with three games left in the fold, what am I going to stop my preparation? No, if anything else you’re going to try to do other things to try and find ways to grit and grind and win out. What I do know about this franchise and this city and the expectation, that’s the way you do it. You have to just find ways to win and that is what we’re going to try and do.”
The former NFL MVP will hope to end his rollercoaster of a season on a high note. On the year, Newton has completed just 66.1% of his passes for 2,172 passing yards, five passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also has added 113 rushes for 451 yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.
Newton’s future in Foxboro beyond this season certainly remains up in the air. The quarterback reportedly sold his Carolina home to the Charlotte Hornets first-round pick LaMelo Ball, but has not been searching for real estate in New England.
“Not at this particular moment, I have not,” Newton answered when asked if he’s shopped for homes.
Newton’s focus remains in the present, which is currently featuring a Week 15 date with the 8-5 Miami Dolphins. New England defeated the Dolphins 21-11 back in Week 1, but will now travel to Miami and face rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa. A loss would all but end New England’s season.
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