"Sham Newton" - The Gig Is Up, It's Time For "Stid The Kid"
These Patriots are what we thought they were. Or at least they are what I thought they were. Ok, maybe a little worse than that. Ok, maybe a lot worse than I thought they were.
Before the season started I placed a $100 bet on the total Patriots wins in 2020. The line was at 8.5. So, I took the under. If the Patriots don't win nine games this regular season I win. I think it's looking pretty good so far, as far as that goes.
They are one loss away from making that bet a $100 payout, and I certainly wasn't expecting that to happen in week-15, but it might.
What doesn't look good is this 2020 edition of the Patriots. What looks even worse is the 2020 edition of Cam Newton.
Without bogging-down this post with stats, I will just speak on what my eyes tell me about Newton's quarterback play.
He barely resembles an NFL quarterback. He struggles with almost every aspect of playing the position, with the exception of running for yardage.
He seems to struggle making pre-snap reads and deciphering coverage's before the ball is snapped. He struggles making his reads when he has the ball and also going thru his route progressions.
He seems conflicted about when to bail-out on the passing attempt and run. When he does throw it, too many passes are off-target.
I don't know that I've ever seen a QB struggle so many times in one season, because most times that level of play will have you on the bench more times than not.
At what point does Belichick decide that he's seen enough from Newton and realize that the guy is not going to get this team to the playoffs? When does he start giving the 1st-team practice reps to Jarrett Stidham?
When I watch Stidham run the offense, which certainly isn't often, my eyes tell me that he is more of an NFL QB than Newton is. He looks more the part. He makes his reads decisively and delivers the ball on-time, for the most part. His accuracy still needs improvement, but if I just watch both QB's in the pocket, and how they operate and look, Stidham looks to me like the guy who is more NFL-ready.
It's time for Belichick to make the switch. Newton is a big boy and has been thru hardships before, he'll get over it. Stop protecting his feelings.
Stidham deserves a shot and the team needs to know if he can play and show improvement along the way.
Just like it was with Tom Brady......if Belichick knew how good Brady was going to be running an offense as a starting QB he would have started him from the outset.
Brady must not have appeared to be the best chance the team had at winning football games, but once he got his chance to be "the guy" for multiple weeks, he flourished.
It's time to see what Stidham has. We've all seen enough of what Newton has.
It certainly is tough playing QB when you don't really have good talent around you to help out, and that's the case here with the Patriots. This Wide Receiver corp is not going to make it easy for any quarterback. The Tight Ends on this roster aren't going to be reliable targets either. Both positions struggle to separate from coverage. Both of these position groups will need major attention in the off-season. But, neither position group is getting much help from their QB either.
The Patriots defense has had its ups-and-downs this year, but they do have NFL-level talent throughout that group. They lost a starting Safety and their thumping Middle Linebacker to Covid opt-outs and they have still held their own.....for the majority of the season.
There is a need to get younger on defense, and that can fairly easily be done thru the draft and free agency, so I don't have too much concern for this unit in 2021. The problem is that as it looks now, the defense will be leaned-on almost every game to get the wins, as this offense doesn't look like it can be fixed in one off-season.
The brightest spot on this roster right now is probably wearing #37.
RB Damien Harris looks to be the real deal. He runs with power, keeps a good pad level, is quick in and out of his breaks and has decent speed. I like watching the kid play.
I do think he can be a bell-cow back and handle 25-30 carries per game. He should be getting that opportunity. I don't know why we have to watch Sony Michel, James White or Rex Burkhed take carries away from Harris.
Again, I'll go back to the eye test. When I watch Harris play he looks the part more than the other running backs do.
How does Rex Burkhed have three touchdowns and Harris only two? Doesn't make sense to me.
Harris also has five receptions on seven targets for an average of 10.4-yards per catch. Why doesn't he get more touches in the passing game? This kid needs to get the ball more, and if that means the team has to move-on from some beloved veterans then that's what they need to do. It's time.
These Patriots aren't good. This team needs to start accepting that Tom Brady had covered-up a lot of imperfections on this team. They need to start drafting better and acquiring free agent talent to fill in the spots where the draft couldn't.
There can't be any more of the ole "we're not paying that much for that position".
This team is going to have to spend every nickle of the salary cap that it has, and they're going to have to do it very wisely if they are going to turn this team around in the near future.
It' starts with moving on from Cam Newton. If Jarrett Stidham doesn't have a future in this league as a starting quarterback, then they will have to accept that conclusion before April's draft and look long and deep at the rookie talent at the quarterback position. They need to draft a quarterback somewhere in this draft.
Teams draft QB's in the middle and later rounds all the time. And they swing and miss on many of these guys, but once in a while someone hits on one later in the draft and it changes a franchise for years, as all Patriots fans know.
The quarterback position has never been more important in the NFL than it is now. The league has tailored the rules to make a teams quarterback play the most important part of its roster. If a team can't throw the ball with a decent level of efficiency then that team can't win many football games these days.
As much as I'd like to see Damien Harris run 40 times a game and turn the clock back to the days of the "3-yards and a cloud of dust" on almost every play, those days are probably gone forever.
The Patriots have more issues than that at the quarterback position, but it starts there if this team wants to be a playoff team in 2021. This season has proven that you can't go far at all if your QB sucks most of the time.
Let's see what Stidham and Harris can do together for 60-minutes. It's time to look into the future. It's time to put Tom Brady's Patriots in the rear-view mirror.
It's time to accept that a team can't lose a future Hall Of Fame quarterback and and just grab an available free agent to fill the void without missing a beat.
It's time to accept that a team can't lose the best quarterback to ever play the game and and just grab an available free agent to fill the void without missing a beat.
2020 has sucked. Covid-19 sucks. Cam Newton sucks.
2021 is right around the corner, and so should Stidham's opportunity so we can know what we're in for and so we know how much time and money is going to be needed to get this team back to the playoffs.