Cam Newton has not been the same quarterback since he returned from his positive COVID-19 diagnosis two weeks ago. Even though Newton was asymptomatic, his performance has been subpar since returning to the New England Patriots. Newton was benched in the second half of the Patriots blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers, causing head coach Bill Belichick to address his future as the starting quarterback.
Newton's struggles are a concern for New England, but he insists they are not a result from COVID-19.
"No. My goodness. I'm hearing a lot of 'what it could be,'" Newton said on WEEI's "The Greg Hill Show" Monday. "It's simple. I have to play better."
Newton has completed just 65% of his passes for 255 yards with zero touchdowns and five interceptions in the two games since he returned -- along with 15 carries for 95 yards. He has completed 67.2% of his passes for 962 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions in five games, while rushing for 244 yards and five touchdowns. The Patriots are multiple games under .500 for the first time since 2002 and have lost three straight games for the first time since that season.
"I've just been pressing. I don't think it's anything with mechanics," Newton said after Sunday's loss. "It's seeing the situation at hand and I caught myself just pressing too much. The energy is definitely been off for me and at times it's not rewarding when you're just going out there with this aura about yourself that's not you.
"I love playing this football game. I have fun playing this football game, but the performances here hasn't been somewhat delightful for me to have fun in doing so. So I just got to be better. And a lot of things starts and stops at that position and I understand that. And I have put this team in a rut with the performances here, and yet just start over with Monday and see where it goes."
The 27-point loss to the 49ers is the largest home loss by the Patriots under Bill Belichick. Certainly Newton isn't all at fault, but the Patriots have scored just one touchdown over the last two games. Changes have to be made if Newton doesn't improve, and he knows it.
"I just stick to the man in the mirror and I wasn't good enough," Newton said. "I didn't -- in no way shape or form did I put this team in a position to compete, and that's inexcusable. This is the National Football League where a lot is put on the quarterback and I have to deliver and I haven't done that. Quite frankly, it's evident. So here moving forward I know what the issue is, like I just said, and I just have to be better."