Life after Tom Brady is suddenly bleak for the Patriots.
Cam Newton said on Monday he was “embarrassed” over his performance in the Patriots’ 33-6 loss to the 49ers on Sunday that dropped the team to 2-4. Coach Bill Belichick said Newton was “absolutely” the starter going forward after he pulled the veteran late in the game.
“The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,’” Newton told WEEI. “You don’t need to tell me that for me to understand that. I get it loud and clear.”
Newton completed 9-of-15 passes for 98 yards and three interceptions against San Francisco, however, the options behind him are not glamorous. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer both struggled mightily in a 26-10 Week 4 loss to the Chiefs that Newton missed after testing positive for COVID-19. Stidham, who is in his second season, replaced Newton on Sunday and threw for 64 yards and another interception in garbage time.
“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah,” said Newton, 31. “I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended having this type of conversation. I’m a realist.
“I don’t fear my position stability more so than controlling the locker room. Performances like [Sunday] jeopardizes [that]. It’s like, ‘Oh my God!’ Players talk, and that’s what’s most important to me. Knowing you have your coaches’ belief [is good], but my belief is that I want to have the whole facility. … It doesn’t start with no miraculous play. It’s a whole body of work that goes into performing on Sunday.”
The Patriots spent the offseason, including the NFL Draft, treating the quarterback position like an afterthought following Brady’s decision to sign with the Buccaneers. They ultimately signed Newton and the move appeared to be another stroke of Belichick genius after a 2-1 start with Newton resembling the player who starred with the Panthers before injuries derailed the end of his time there.
But in the past two games, Newton has looked indecisive in the pocket and lacking in arm strength.
“Nervous? No. Scared? Absolutely not. Thinking? Now that is something that I can probably finger point,” he said. “But yet, there’s no need to feel any type of way but accepting all challenges and I have to get better. And I am adamant about it.”
Newton dismissed any notion that a “COVID fog” is the reason for the decline.
“No. My goodness. I’m hearing a lot of ‘what it could be.’ It’s simple. I have to play better,” Newton said.