“I don’t know, man,” Newton said Sunday when asked if he plans to start against the Buffalo Bills next Monday night. “Look, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m asked to do, and for me, I just have to keep improving. Keep doing what is asked of me and go above and beyond and try to learn the system every week. I know we’re in the latter part of the season, but I’m still trying to learn as much as possible.
Newton, let’s note, hasn’t been the only problem with the Patriots’ offense, which is badly in need of an influx of talent on the wide receiver and tight end this offseason. But the numbers speak for themselves.
The Patriots have now played back-to-back games – two must win games – without scoring a touchdown. They are 27th in points scored this season after not finishing less than seventh since 2008. Newton has 11 rushing touchdowns but ranks 34th in passing touchdowns (five) and 30th in passer rating (79.6 ).
Newton wasn’t that good against the Dolphins – his 209 passing yards were his highest since Week 11, as was his 7.7 yards per attempt – but he had a few costly misfires, including one that flew over a Jakobi Meyers opened in the end zone. . He also had a scrambling fumble that almost resulted in a Miami touchdown.
“This entire season has kind of been the story of coming just a little short,” Newton said. He later replied, “I don’t know,” when asked about the Patriots’ offensive stagnation.
“But I can criticize my game and I have to play better,” he said. “I have to be better, and that’s what I plan (to) continue to do.”
Newton’s commitment and responsibility this season – a season that included a positive COVID-19 test and a relentless struggle to master Josh McDaniels’ complex playbook – has been admirable. But it’s clear he’s not New England’s long-term answer to the quarterback.
Stidham probably isn’t either. But now is the time for the Patriots to find out exactly what they have in their sophomore caller.
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