It wasn’t a lack of practice. It wasn’t distractions. It wasn’t injuries. The New England Patriots just aren’t very good.
And that might be generous.
The Patriots got walloped, 33-6, by the San Francisco 49ers in a game Sunday when quarterback Cam Newton was benched in the fourth quarter for Jarrett Stidham.
That personnel decision might have come two quarters too late.
Here’s what went wrong for the Patriots, who are off to a 2-4 start on a season that’s suddenly slipping away.
There’s no need to mince words. Newton was awful. He went 9-of-15 for 98 yards with three interceptions, all of which were his fault. He also ran five times for 19 yards, but nothing he did with his legs made up for his dreadful day as a passer.
The Patriots have a decision to make before their Week 8 matchup in Buffalo against the Bills. Newton or Stidham?
Stidham was 6-of-10 for 64 yards with an interception.
Newton has struggled as a passer in three straight games, dating back to the Patriots’ 36-20 Week 3 win over the Las Vegas Raiders. He missed another game against the Kansas City Chiefs with COVID-19 in the middle of that stretch. He hasn’t looked like a serviceable quarterback since Week 2, when the Patriots lost to the Seattle Seahawks. The Patriots need better receivers. But Newton’s struggles largely are unrelated to skill-position play.
Stidham, meanwhile, has four interceptions in 27 passing attempts. Third-stringer Brian Hoyer was bad in Week 4’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Jake Dolegala is on the practice squad.
Maybe it’s time to see if Julian Edelman could have made it as an NFL quarterback.
The 49ers ran over, through and around Patriots defenders as they averaged 7.4 yards per gain (the Patriots averaged 4.9 yards per gain).
Tackling was a major issue for the Patriots as 49ers ball carriers continuously got to the second level of the Patriots’ defense.
The 49ers picked up 196 yards on 37 carries for 5.3 yards per clip. Jimmy Garoppolo was 20-of-25 for 278 yards with two interceptions.
It didn’t matter who carried the ball for the 49ers while their starting running back, Raheem Mostert, was out on injured reserve. Jeff Wilson carried the ball 17 times for 112 yards with three touchdowns before suffering an ankle injury. Jamical Hasty, an undrafted running back out of Baylor, carried the ball nine times for 56 yards. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk also got into the action with four carries for 18 yards with a touchdown.
It would be bad enough if the Patriots’ defense showed any life with the offense struggling. It was all bad Sunday.
Actually, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers was pretty good in his most extensive action of the season, catching four passes for 60 yards. Kicker Nick Folk also made both of his field goal attempts.