Is the Clock Ticking on Cam Newton's Career?

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When the New England Patriots brought in Cam Newton this offseason, I don't think anybody viewed him as this team's quarterback of the future.  If he played poorly, then they move to Jarrett Stidham.  That seemed to be the original plan heading into this season anyway; or they could draft another young quarterback in the offseason.  If Newton played well, then maybe the Pats go on a nice playoff run but in the offseason, he would command more money than the team would be willing to give him.  Either way, Newton was a bridge. 

Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com

Well, after a solid start to the season, it's been a dismal few weeks for Newton and the Patriots, and it's looking more and more like a lost season.  It's not fair to put it all on Newton.  This team isn't exactly oozing talent.  However, in this league, the quarterback bears the brunt of the criticism. 

It's hard not to feel bad for Newton.  I, like many Pats fans, liked the signing.  In all honesty, I was encouraged by his performance in the second half against Buffalo.  Now, the bar had been set so low because of how poor his previous two games were, but there were some things to like.  Unfortunately, he'll only be remembered for the costly fumble.

Nobody will remember that he helped lead them on back to back touchdown drives for the first time all season.  Nobody will care about the connection that he and Jakobi Meyers are establishing.  I thought Newton had some nice plays where instead of trying to force it downfield, he checked down, found open guys, and let them run with the ball; including a really nice play where he stepped up to avoid pressure and just dumped it off to Ryan Izzo who ran with it for some yardage.  It's something we haven't seen a lot of from him. 

All of those positives will be overshadowed by the game-sealing fumble and a fourth straight loss that drops the team to 2-5.  I'm not saying any of this is wrong either.  Newton hasn't been the player the Pats were hoping for when they signed him and he deserves the criticism.  He'll be the first one to tell you that.  I just feel for the guy.

Now, the questions are starting to swirl around whether New England should make the move to Stidham and put an end to the Newton experiment.  In all likelihood, the team would have to win eight of its last nine games to make the postseason.  While Newton still gives the Pats the best chance to win each week, a trip to the playoffs seems out of reach at this point. 

We probably won't learn much from this week's game against the New York Jets.  As poorly as the Pats have played, they are still better than the Jets and that should be a win.  Then come games with the Ravens, Texans and Cardinals.  Let's say the Pats split these next four and start December at 4-7.  If Newton's mediocre play continues, will Belichick finally turn it over to Stidham?

If he does, what does that mean for Newton's future?  We all know about his past and his MVP season in 2015.  He carried the Panthers to a Super Bowl where the lasting image from that game is Newton not attempting to recover a fumble late in the fourth quarter.  Since that season, Newton is 25-28 as a starter, including wins in just two of his last 14 starts.

He hasn't thrown a touchdown in three games and has turned the ball over in every game but one this season.  Ironically, his completion percentage is one of the highest he's had in his career, but his QB rating is one of the lowest.  All in all, it's been a disappointing season for Newton and the pressure is now mounting.

This is a guy who will be 32 years old at the start of next season. It's a guy that no other team really wanted to sign this year, so the Pats took a flier on him.  He's undergone multiple surgeries, has awkward throwing mechanics and as a quarterback who likes to run, has taken his fair share of hits in his 10 seasons.   

If he gets replaced by Stidham at any point this season, what team is going to come knocking on the door of an aging quarterback with injury history, who was just benched for a guy with 27 career passing attempts?  Think of all the teams who need an upgrade at quarterback right now.  With the way Newton has been playing, what's the incentive to bring him in favor of drafting a young quarterback?  If the Patriots turn to Stidham, could this be the last time we see Newton on the field?

He may not only be playing for his starting job in New England, I don't think it's too farfetch'd to say he's playing for his job, period.


Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Is the Clock Ticking on Cam Newton's Career?
Is the Clock Ticking on Cam Newton's Career?
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