As people try to figure out what’s wrong with Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, some wonder whether it has something to do with his fairly recent bout with COVID-19.
Appearing on WEEI this morning, Newton was asked whether he’s experiencing any “fog” effects from the virus.
“No,” Newton said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “My goodness. I’m hearing a lot of what it could be. It’s simple. I have to play better.”
Newton played so poorly on Sunday that he was removed from the lineup for Jarrett Stidham.
“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed?” Newton said. “Yeah. . . . 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.'”
For now, coach Bill Belichick has said that’s not happening.
Newton’s throwing efficiency continuously has declined since Week One, when he posted a 100.7 passer rating against the Dolphins in Week One. He then dipped to 94.6 against the Seahawks, 73.8 against the Raiders, 51.6 against the Broncos, and 39.7 against the 49ers, a performance that included only 98 passing yards, nine completions, and three interceptions.
Regardless of whether he’s feeling any specific effects of COVID-19, that diagnosis became the moment a promising season was knocked wobbly. Now, the Patriots are on the ropes.
The message to the other AFC contenders is simple: Punch them through while you can. If they can get things under control and scratch and claw their way to the playoffs, they will be dangerous in January.