The New England Patriots suffered a crushing loss to the Los Angeles Rams last night. In the process, all the hope and momentum that had been built up after their previous blowout over the Los Angeles Chargers came crashing down. It seemed evident pretty early on that these two teams were not on the same level, and the Rams pretty easily inflicted their will on this game.
The Patriots also did their best to make it as easy as possible for them to accomplish their goal. After a slow start, the defense did do it’s job, and allowed the Pats to keep the game within two possessions in the event the offense would ever wake up. When that didn’t happen, the Rams eventually took full control with their first drive in the second half, and engineered a 16 play, 10 minute drive that effectively put the Patriots to bed. It was the type of drive that the Patriots offense strives to produce, but almost never does.
After this result, the Patriots stand just a 6% shot of making the playoffs, which feels rather generous honestly. They would have to win out against their AFC East opponents, and receive a large amount of help from other teams.
With this in mind, is it worth letting Cam Newton continue to play, or should the reigns be handed over to Jarrett Stidham. Despite winning the past couple of games, Newton has looked quite bad over the past three games. He didn’t even surpass 100 yards in the past two wins, and barely did so against the Rams before being benched for Stidham. When the Patriots fall behind, they are toast, because Newton and the aerial attack can’t muster anything up when they need to.
Stidham is a passer who is more suited to lead this offense. Josh McDaniels is completely out of his element calling an offense that is led by Cam Newton. His blend of mind boggling screens (hence the 79 yard pick six) and repetitive option calls aren’t working. From the outside looking in Stidham may at least force other teams to worry about him throwing the ball, just due to the fact that they don’t know what to expect from him. With Newton, you know what you are getting every time, and every team has adjusted accordingly.
Take this game for example. The Patriots had ample opportunity to make the game somewhat competitive, making it to the red zone on four of their drives. Yet on those four drives, they came away with only three points, which is just flat out awful. It was easy for the Rams to just sell out against the run, because they knew how unlikely it was for McDaniels to dial up a pass play. And even if he did, the Rams probably feel confidant about stopping it. If Stidham is under center, can defenses sell out against the run? They probably still feel confidant about their ability to stop him, but if they have to even think about it, it will open up more lanes for the run game.
Newton will probably get the stat again next week when they take on the Miami Dolphins. If they face a similar plight as they did in this game, then it may be time to make the switch. The Patriots have to win out to even have a shot, so if they go down early it seems like it should be Stidham time. The odds of a playoff run are pretty much out the window, and it seems blatantly obvious that Cam Newton isn’t the long term answer to the quarterback issue this team faces. It’s going to be time soon one way or another to find the next quarterback for this team, so may as well get a head start on it now.