Cam Newton Told Himself He'll Be Benched Permanently If Struggles Continue

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2020

New England Patriots quarterbacks Cam Newton, left, and Jarrett Stidham sit on the bench with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, right, in the second half of an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was benched during Sunday's 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers at Gillette Stadium, and the veteran even had to call himself out after the game.

"If you keep playing games like that, bro, it's going to be a permanent change," Newton apparently told himself driving home, per The Greg Hill Show (h/t Ryan Hannable of WEEI).

"For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah," Newton added. "I don't feel offended by what was done. I don't feel offended having this type of conversation. I'm a realist."

Newton finished the Week 7 matchup with just 98 passing yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. It was the first time he failed to reach 100 passing yards in 130 career appearances.

Jarrett Stidham replaced him in the fourth quarter and played the final two drives for the Patriots.

Stidham wasn't much better, finishing with 64 passing yards and an interception. His passer rating (39.2) was nearly identical to Newton's (39.7), although the team did gain 106 yards on his two drives after just 135 yards over the first seven possessions.

More importantly, the Patriots could eventually turn to the 24-year-old Stidham as a trial for next season. New England is not used to rebuilding, but after falling to 2-4, the organization could start planning for the future if it suffers several more defeats.

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Newton, 31, had a strong start to the 2020 campaign and rushed for two scores in a Week 1 win over the Miami Dolphins. He looked as good as ever during the Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, throwing for 397 yards, rushing for 47 more and totaling three touchdowns.

After testing positive for COVID-19, he missed the Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The team had a bye in Week 5, but he was not cleared to return to practice until Oct. 15.

Newton has thrown for just 255 passing yards over the past two games with no touchdowns and five interceptions. The offense has scored just 18 points in the two losses to the 49ers and Denver Broncos.

New England has an important AFC East matchup against the Buffalo Bills in Week 8. If Newton struggles again, he might not get another chance.