Patriots-49ers Takeaways: Does Cam Newton Have Issue Throwing Right?

Newton didn't throw a single aimed pass to the outside right


October 26, 2020

The New England Patriots have issues up and down their roster, but the most glaring flaw seven weeks into the season has been quarterback Cam Newton’s accuracy.

The Patriots lost their Week 7 matchup to the San Francisco 49ers 33-6. Let’s dive deeper into Newton’s deficiencies in this week’s takeaways.

All advanced stats via PFF.

Adjusted completion percentage
Cam Newton: one throwaway on 9-of-15 passing, 64.3 adjusted completion percentage
Jarrett Stidham: two throwaways, one batted pass on 6-of-10 passing, 85.7 adjusted completion percentage

— Newton was hesitant all game, and his accuracy was way off, leading the Patriots to bench their starter in the fourth quarter to bring in Stidham. Newton’s accuracy was so poor through most of the first two quarters that it almost seemed like he had the yips.

— Newton’s first interception was low and out of the reach of wide receiver Jakobi Meyers in double coverage. His second interception was overthrown to Meyers, who tripped and fell, into double coverage. His third interception was behind Julian Edelman.

— Newton’s mechanics also have seemed off in recent weeks. He simply contends he needs to play better. The Patriots will stick with Newton for at least one more week as they face the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Deep passing
Newton: 2-of-3, 41 yards, INT

Pass direction
— Newton threw just one pass to his outside right all game, and it was a throwaway. Otherwise, he was 5-of-6 for 57 yards to the outside left and 4-of-8 for 41 yards with three interceptions in the middle of the field.

— Newton’s complete unwillingness to throw right is a somewhat recent trend in New England. Newton was 0-of-3 with an interception throwing to his outside right in Week 6. He went 6-of-8 for 56 yards to his outside left and 11-of-13 for 101 yards with an interception between the numbers in that loss to the Denver Broncos. Newton was more willing to throw outside right over the first three weeks of the season.

— Through five games, Newton is 28-of-36 throwing outside left, 51-of-68 to the middle and 9-of-18 to the right on aimed passes. Newton is just 1-of-8 with two interceptions on passes thrown over 10 yards to the outside right. He’s 12-of-14 on passes over 10 yards to the outside left and 16-of-25 with two interceptions on passes thrown over 10 yards between the numbers.

— ESPN’s Mina Kimes notes that Newton’s struggles throwing right date back to his days with the Carolina Panthers.

— There is a reason why Newton has become hesitant to throw right. He’s struggling, but his unwillingness to scatter the ball around will only help opposing defenses.

Pass protection
RG Shaq Mason: three hurries
QB Cam Newton: two hurries
TE Ryan Izzo: hurry
RT Justin Herron: hurry
LT Isaiah Wynn: hurry
LG Hjalte Froholdt: sack
RT/RG Mike Onwenu: sack
QB Jarrett Stidham: hurry

— Mason was returning from a calf injury.

— Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Rex Burkhead, James White and Damien Harris were clean in pass protection.

— Andrews returned from an injured reserve stint.

— Thuney left the game with an injury, which led Herron to enter the game. When Herron got hurt, Froholdt came off of the bench.

Receiver production
— Meyers led Patriots receivers with 2.31 yards per route run in a reserve role. He’s second behind Edelman in yards per route run among wide receivers on the season.

Damien Harris: 3.1 yards after contact per attempt, one avoided tackle
Rex Burkhead: 2 yards after contact per attempt

— Harris ran 10 times for 58 yards, while Burkhead had four carries for 12 yards. Newton ran five times for 19 yards, Stidham had two rushing attempts for 3 yards and wide receiver Jakobi Meyers had a 2-yard carry. Running back James White didn’t receive any carries in limited snaps.

— The Patriots’ rushing attack was fine Sunday, but they never really had a chance to get rolling with the game quickly out of reach.

Pass coverage:
DB Jonathan Jones: four completions on four targets, 81 yards
S Adrian Phillips: 4-4, 52 yards
LB Anfernee Jennings: 3-3, 38 yards
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley: 2-3, 32 yards
FS Devin McCourty: 3-3, 31 yards, INT
CB Stephon Gilmore: 2-3, 17 yards
CB Jason McCourty: 1-2, 15 yards
S Terrence Brooks: 1-2, 11 yards
CB JC Jackson: 0-1, INT

— The Patriots combatted the 49ers’ speed and tendency to use motion with more zone concepts. That meant fewer snaps for Jackson, who New England likes as a man corner.

— The Patriots held tight end George Kittle to five catches on seven targets for 55 yards. Gilmore, Phillips, Brooks and Jennings all let up catches to Kittle.

— Of Jimmy Garoppolo’s 277 passing yards, 142 of them came on passes from behind the line of scrimmage to 10 yards downfield.

Pass rush:
OLB Chase Winovich: two hurries
DT Lawrence Guy: sack
Brooks: QB hit
Bentley: hurry
DT Adam Butler: hurry
OLB Shilique Calhoun: hurry
Gilmore: hurry

— Winovich played just 13-of-66 defensive snaps primarily in obvious passing situations. The Patriots still don’t seem to trust Winovich as a run defender, but their other options haven’t been playing any better.

Tackling efficiency:
DE Tashawn Bower: two stops
Phillips: two stops
Guy: two stops
Bentley: two stops, one missed tackle
Jones: two stops, one missed tackle
DE Derek Rivers: stop
LB Brandon Copeland: stop
DT Byron Cowart: stop
DT Nick Thurman: stop
LB Anfernee Jennings: stop
Jason McCourty: stop
DE John Simon: two stops, two missed tackles
Butler: missed tackle
Winovich: missed tackle
Devin McCourty: stop, three missed tackles
Gilmore: two missed tackles

— That’s a ton of missed tackles, especially on the back end of the Patriots’ defense. 49ers ball-carriers were getting past the first level of the Patriots’ defense with ease, and then defensive backs were whiffing on tackles, leading to big plays. The Patriots typically are one of the NFL’s best tackling teams.

— 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr. picked up 4.12 yards after contact and forced four missed tackles. JaMycal Hasty averaged 3.22 yards after contact per attempt and forced three missed tackles.

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton
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