Patriots: Is COVID-19 still causing Cam Newton’s struggles?

New England Patriots QB Cam Newton has not looked the same since returning from the coronavirus. Is that the root cause?

Whatever the reason, Patriots QB Cam Newton has not been the same since his unstoppable offensive outing in Seattle several Sundays ago, when we were all ready to talk extension.

On that evening, Newton went 30-of-44 for 397 yards, adding 47 rushing yards and mixing in numerous deadly accurate downfield strikes, proving he was more than the caretaker he seemed to be in Week 1. The very next week, Newton regressed a bit, but did more than enough to manage a 36-20 victory over the Raiders.

Between that contest and the Pats’ Week 4 battle with the Chiefs, word came down that Newton had tested positive for the coronavirus, throwing the team’s schedule into flux and interrupting practice repeatedly as a slow trickle of positives disrupted the rest of the roster.

Newton has now returned, but his struggles have not dissipated. And so it seems fair to ask: Though his case was reportedly asymptomatic, is Newton being physically and mentally affected by COVID-19?

Two full weeks of isolation in the middle of an NFL season would be detrimental to anyone, especially a team leader. The mental aspect of being bizarrely disconnected from the rest of your roster, in the midst of a team surge, isn’t the kind of thing an NFL QB in a comeback season would’ve ever had to deal with before.

And then, of course, it’s fair to wonder about the physical side of things, too. Even if Newton’s case was theoretically asymptomatic, that does not preclude him from suffering after-effects of the disease. He might feel fogged up or not quite himself. He could be fatigued, or could be struggling to catch his breath.

As some of us have spent the past several months stressing, just because someone young and healthy “recovers” from COVID-19 does not mean the disease’s impact has ended. We don’t know what Newton is battling on a daily basis, but we do know he’s returning from an unprecedented circumstance. That simply must be factored into the discourse about why he’s backslid.

If his battle with the coronavirus is affecting him, Newton will never admit it or use it as an excuse. Same thing with the reported “hand injury” that may or may not have been spotted during the Broncos game in Week 6.

But Newton isn’t struggling under normal circumstances. He’s looked completely different since being diagnosed with a mysterious disease that the American public has only scratched the surface of learning about.

At the very least, that possible context is necessary in assessing Newton’s two recent games.