Josh McDaniels isn’t abandoning his support for Cam Newton.
One day after Newton was benched for the third time in 10 weeks in a 38-9 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium, McDaniels delivered a passionate defense of the New England Patriots quarterback, saying his work ethic is unmatched.
“Cam?s done a tremendous job,” New England’s offensive coordinator said in a Tuesday morning conference call. “He studies. He works extremely hard, as hard as any player I?ve coached. He comes in prepared each day. He prepares hard for every practice, every session we have. He?s ready to go each week at the game. He gives us everything he?s got.
“So to me, you can?t attach your self-worth and all that stuff to the result of a game or one certain season. Cam?s done a lot for a long time, and he?s given us everything he?s got. There?s nothing else I could ask for as a coach.”
The Patriots rank 28th in the NFL in points per game this season (19.9) and have scored just one touchdown during their current three-game losing streak. Their passing attack ranks near the bottom of the league in nearly every category, including yards (30th), yards per attempt (23rd), touchdown passes (32nd), completion percentage (25th), passer rating (29th), sack rate (26th) and interception rate (31st).
Newton completed 5 of 10 passes for 34 yards Monday night. Backup Jarrett Stidham went 4-for-11 for 44 yards after taking over midway through the third quarter.
“Have there been mistakes made? Yeah, that?s across the board,” McDaniels said. “There?s no question about it. Our whole group, we need better from, and that?s my job. So we need to do a better job of figuring it out and putting them in position to be successful. Coaching them properly and obviously being able to make more plays and score more points.
“But as far as Cam Newton is concerned, he?s obviously earned the respect of this entire building and organization, every coach and player in here. The way we feel about him won?t change.”
McDaniels said the blame for New England’s pass-game struggles doesn’t fall solely on Newton. The Patriots boast arguably the NFL’s weakest collection of pass-catchers, including a pair of rookie tight ends in Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene who’ve totaled just two receptions all season and a receiving corps that lacks a viable No. 1 wideout.
“There?s a lot of reasons why you have success in the passing game,” McDaniels said. “There?s a lot of reasons why you don?t. Everyone points to the quarterback, and that?s fair. He?s handled that burden, that responsibility, and that criticism with tremendous grace and class all year long, as he should and as I would expect. That?s what leaders do.
“Certainly, there?s many reasons why we haven?t had success in the passing game, and it?s certainly not just the quarterback.”
Newton expressed his frustration after Monday’s loss, lamenting that his season-long “sacrifice” has yielded just six wins in 16 weeks. The 31-year-old is set to hit unrestricted free agency in March. It’s unclear whether New England will look to re-sign him.
The Patriots will look to end on a positive note Sunday when they host the New York Jets in Week 17.