As much as we admire Patriots QB Cam Newton’s confidence, it’s impossible to believe his latest comments about his wide receivers.
Teams generally use bye weeks to regroup and address concerns that were on full display in previous games. Unfortunately for the Patriots, however, their makeshift bye in Week 5 featured a slew of COVID-19 diagnoses, forcing them to close their practice facilities on multiple occasions.
Nothing is fair about the Patriots suffering the consequences of the NFL’s failure to implement a proper contingency plan, but we don’t see the Titans, whose outbreak was far more severe, using that as an excuse, as they’ve rattled off two straight wins since being cleared to return to the field.
In their first post bye clash on Sunday, the Patriots looked like anything but a playoff contender, losing to an inferior Broncos side despite holding the touchdown advantage and forcing two interceptions of quarterback Drew Lock down the stretch.
In terms of takeaways (other than what Lock did), the biggest on the afternoon was clearly the offense’s shocking inability to move the ball down field. While Cam Newton looked like a player who was away from the team for several days, his wide receiving corps did him zero favors, as everyone struggled to muster separation from defenders all game long.
Following their lackluster performance — it feels like we’ve said that a lot this season — Newton continued to express confidence in the group while speaking to reporters after the loss.
Newton doesn’t usually offer much during press conferences following defeats, so we wouldn’t look too deeply into him providing a two-word response when asked about his confidence in his current options at WR. It would also be an awful optic for him to come out and chastise the Patriots’ roster, but we find it really hard to believe that he’s this optimistic.
The 31-year-old quarterback completed just 46% of his pass attempts (6-of-13) vs Denver when throwing to Patriots receivers, and we’re honestly not sure what’s worse: his completion percentage when targeting them, or the fact that he only threw their direction 13 times.
If that doesn’t speak to his lack of trust in them, maybe the fact that running back James White led the way with eight receptions (on nine targets) for 65 yards will do the trick. For added context, no Patriots wideout finished with more than three receptions or 38 yards.
We’re not saying that Newton was perfect — he struggled a lot on deep balls — and he admirably took responsibility for the loss after the game, but it’s hard to come down on him when you consider the talent, or lack thereof, that he’s working with.
It’s duly noted that Bill Belichick has enjoyed tremendous success, often without superstar receivers, throughout his esteemed coaching career, but this team is going nowhere if he doesn’t get his quarterback some help on the perimeter. Those are just the facts, and Patriots Nation should be on its knees praying that he doesn’t take Newton’s postgame comments to heart.