Shutout Doesn’t Hide Patriots Offensive Deficiencies
By Kevin McCaskill Jr.
The Patriots beat the Los Angeles Chargers [of San Diego] on Sunday 45-0. The offense generated 24 of those 45 points: two rushing TDs by Cam Newton, one passing TD from Newton to N’Keal Harry and a FG. That FG drive was set up by WR Gunner Olszewski’s 61 yard punt return. A capable passing QB would have guided the Patriots offense into the end zone. The Patriots don’t start a capable passing QB; they had to settle for a field goal.
Before Sunday’s game, I planned on writing an article about every Cam Newton throw during the Chargers game. I was watching NFL RedZone and missed the first offensive possession for the Patriots 😢. So by missing 1 offensive possession, I missed over a quarter of Newton’s passing yards and 42% of Newton’s rushing yards.
On the first offensive possession, Newton was 2/3 for 18 yards passing; 4 carries for 20 yards and one TD rushing.
The rest of the game, which i watched [turned RedZone off], Newton was 10/16 for 51 yards, 1 TD; 10 car 28 yards, 1 TD.
69 passing yards for a starting QB, who is a “fOrMEr mVp”.
Here are my grades of the 16 throws I saw Cam Newton throw on Sunday:
🤷🏽♂️ 3 [all ok throws were near the line of scrimmage]
The longest pass Newton completed was 15 yards to Jakobi Meyers 🙄.
Newton is running Navy’s offense great 👍🏽. Which leads to the play-caller of the Patriots/Armed Forces Service Academy offense, Josh McDaniels.
It’s really either one of two reasons as to why the Patriots offensive scheme has looked like this: Newton is limited physically, as in his shoulder, or Newton is still having issues continuously reading coverages and passing the ball to WRs effectively.
The offensive strategy from last season to this season is totally different with the same options, other than Matt LaCosse. The Patriots went 12-4 last year. The team is 6-6 currently.
McDaniels has to play more 3 WR sets. He should also be more unpredictable in 2 WR sets. In 2 WR, especially when the 2 WR are on the same side and no WR on the other side, the Patriots almost 100% of the time run the ball. Meyers isn’t a threat on those routes. Replacing Meyers with N’Keal Harry and actually throwing him the ball, would free up some space in the running game.
There were 2 plays on Sunday that demonstrate flat-out, awful play-calling. On the Patriots 4th offensive possession, at the Chargers 10 yard-line, McDaniels dialed-up a fake hand off to RB James White and then Newton threw White the ball in the flat for 3 yards 🤔. The Chargers didn’t bite on the fake to White because they know White is mostly in the game on passing downs. Once again, McDaniels is becoming way too predictable. The other play was on the same drive, 2 plays later. McDaniels calls a QB sneak from the 3 yard-line 🤔. The refs gave Newton one yard but it didn’t look like he gained anything 🤷🏽♂️.
All of a sudden, there is this much hyped “connection” between Newton and Meyers. The “connection” was off on Sunday. Meyers had 2 receptions on 6 targets 😳. Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry both had 2 receptions on 3 targets [2/2 with Newton for Harry]. Further evidence for McDaniels to give Harry more snaps and to throw the ball more if Newton can handle it physically.
The game got so out of hand, Jarrett Stidham got some snaps. He played two offensive possessions. The final possession was all runs. The possession before that, Stidham went 2/3 for 61 yards passing, with a 38 yard TD pass to Olszewski.
Cam Newton: 7 offensive possessions - 69 passing yards
Jarrett Stidham: 2 offensive possessions - 61 passing yards
The Patriots next game is today, in Los Angeles to play the Rams. The Rams have a good defensive line and a good secondary, so the passing game for the Patriots might be difficult. The Rams also have a lot of film on the Patriots from their Super Bowl matchup 2 seasons ago. McDaniels has to try new plays and new formations, specifically the players in the formations.
Cam Newton needs 16 or more rushing attempts in the game against the Rams. NFL defenses are still having issues with the zone-read. ⌛️
(Cover photo via elevenwarriors.com)