Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was benched by the Patriots on Sunday, but what comes next for the iconic signal-caller?
After a promising start to life with the New England Patriots, things seem to be unraveling quickly for Cam Newton. The former face of the Carolina Panthers struggled mightily once again in their demoralizing defeat to the San Francisco 49ers, which led head coach Bill Belichick to bench the quarterback in the second half.
This was probably the best possible solution for all parties. Newton was clearly not himself and was finding it difficult to get into any sort of rhythm against a depleted Niners’ defense. But that does not detract from the fact that it leaves more questions than answers surrounding the 2015 NFL MVP and his long-term future with the organization.
The knives will be out for Newton, which is to be expected when a high-profile player goes through an indifferent period of form. But his current predicament needs to be put into some context.
Cam Newton up against it after parting ways with the Carolina Panthers.
Firstly, it’s easy to forget that the signal-caller missed almost 18 months of action before suiting up for the Patriots thanks to shoulder and foot injuries that tainted his final few months in Carolina. Couple this with no preseason games to develop chemistry and contracting COVID-19 a short time ago, and it is not hard to see why Newton might have regressed.
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Secondly, he is getting absolutely no help.
This is probably the worst group of pass-catchers in the NFL. Tom Brady experienced this to his cost last season and one only has to look at how the perennial Super Bowl winner is faring with better weapons around him on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see just how important this is.
Unfortunately for Newton, Belichick hasn’t afforded him such a luxury.
The head coach has said he is the starter going forward. But that doesn’t detract from what a dismal supporting cast Newton has to work with.
Thirdly, the Patriots defense is decimated. This doesn’t legislate for poor production from Newton’s perspective, but it does leave him on the back foot after plenty of seasoned campaigners opted-out due to COVID-19 health concerns.
Taking Newton out of the game when the Niners were getting after it with a big lead was probably for the best. The last thing he or the Patriots need is an unnecessary beating when there is nothing to play for. But things will need to improve and quickly if the former No. 1 overall pick wants to extend his stay in New England beyond this season.
Newton finished the game having completed nine of 15 passes for 98 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. This is not good enough and nobody will know that more than him, but whether he can respond in a positive manner at the Buffalo Bills in Week 8 is another matter entirely.
There was a lot riding on this season for the Auburn product. Newton felt hard done by after his messy release from the Panthers, but their decision to go with Teddy Bridgewater under center doesn’t actually look that bad right now.
The comparisons between Newton and Bridgewater will always be there. That is just the nature of the beast. This probably isn’t going to do either player any favors in the long run and judging by what we have seen from the ex-Panther, he has plenty more things to currently occupy his mind.
Newton is made of strong stuff. There will never be a better time to show it.