Tom Brady used to be the New England Patriots quarterback. Cam Newton is currently the New England Patriots quarterback. One is the greatest of all-time, the other is…a mess. Newton’s box score yesterday proves that assessment.
He was 9/18 for 84 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating was a putrid 23.6. Yet, he was the winning quarterback yesterday. Hard to believe, but somehow the Arizona Cardinals let that guy, with that performance, lead his team to victory and drop the Cardinals to 6-5 on the season.
It was a completely forgettable day in New England for all involved wearing the red jerseys. Although, it didn’t start out that way.
On the game’s first possession, Newton was hit as he threw, and Marcus Golden made the interception deep in Patriots territory which led to the game’s first touchdown. Arizona then added a field goal and led 10-0 as the second quarter began. It wasn’t a good quarter for the Big Red and it ended with a momentum-swinging goal line stand as Kenyon Drake was denied the end zone as the half ended.
The third quarter was another snooze quarter for Kylar Murray and the Arizona offense. There was a lot of blame to go around on the field and on the sidelines for that futility, but you also have to credit the tough Patriots defense. The home team’s effort on that side of the ball plus their solid special teams play led the way to New England scoring 17 unanswered points.
The game was tied after the Cardinals put together a long 4th quarter drive which ended not with another Patriots goal line stand, but instead a touchdown from Drake. Newton then seemingly gift-wrapped the game to Arizona with an interception at midfield with under 3 minutes to play. The Cardinals did not accept that gift as Zane Gonzalez missed a 47-yard field goal with 1:47 left.
The game ended on a Nick Folk 50-yard field goal giving New England an improbable 20-17 victory.
Murray didn’t have quite the dreadful day Newton had, but his stat line was pretty underwhelming – 23/34 for 170 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. However, that box score isn’t the reason for concern regarding the second-year quarterback…there are two other main concerns.
For the second consecutive week, he did not make an impact rushing the football. He only gained 31 yards on the ground yesterday. Last week in the loss at Seattle, Murray only managed 15 yards. Have NFL defenses figured how to stop his legs? Might be looking that way, we’ll have to see what happens over the final five games.
The other concern is something that’s been happening since last season. His demeanor on the sidelines continues to be alarming…alarming in the fact that there is no emotion, except for the occasional pouting, which obviously isn’t good either. Quarterbacks should be leaders on the field and on the sidelines and at practice and in the locker room. I can’t speak for practice or the locker room, but I know what I see on the field during games which looks at times like he’s waiting for a bus.
No facial expressions.
Winning or losing…nothing.
Kliff Kingsbury has said to reporters that he’s still struggling to consistently communicate properly with Murray. That’s a problem that needs fixing. All the hype piled on Murray since he came into the league has sort of hid this concern, but it’s getting tougher to hide it now.
Next up for the NFC West 3rd place Cardinals team is the 2nd place team, the LA Rams. It’s a huge game. Hopefully Larry Fitzgerald will return from his absence yesterday due to testing positive for Covid-19. That is an uncertainty right now and for that matter, so is making the playoffs for this team.
If not for that Hail Mary a few weeks ago against Buffalo, Arizona would be losers of 4 straight. The momentum needs to swing back in their direction. Making field goals would help. Better play-calling would help. More yards on the ground would help. More luck would help. Ultimately, more leadership would help the most.