Patriots QB Cam Newton isn’t looking back. He’s focused on beating the Dolphins

When Cam Newton walked off the field after leading the Patriots to a victory over the Dolphins in the season opener, anything seemed possible.
The way he played, the way he led the team in that September game at Gillette Stadium, a postseason run didn’t seem out of the realm, whether Tom Brady was in the building or not.
Newton looked that good.
Leading the team with 75 yards on the ground on a 200-plus rushing day for the offense, to go along with two rushing scores in a 21-11 victory over the Dolphins, Newton brought not only a new dimension to the offense, but the hope the Patriots weren’t just going to crumble without the GOAT.
The thought of still having a contender, however, as well as the image of seeing a victorious Newton for a majority of the games, proved fleeting.
Instead of hanging with the elite, the Patriots have joined the world of mediocrity and are all but eliminated from playoff contention, with their odds of making it at just two percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.
All the promise Newton provided Week 1 has fallen to the wayside. Instead, all the talk has moved on to the next quarterback.
While he has effectively used his wheels this season, he just hasn’t been able to throw the football consistently.
Whether impacted by past shoulder trouble, the aftershocks of having COVID-19, or simply not having a top flight receiving corps, Newton hasn’t produced the type of aerial attack that’s necessary to win games.
What’s been missing?
“Just execution,” he answered simply during his video call with reporters on Thursday.
The Patriots have the 21st-ranked offense in the league. On Sunday, they’ll be meeting a Dolphins team that has allowed the second fewest points per game (18.8) in the NFL.
The Dolphins have surged after a rough start, and Newton is well aware a victory here won’t be as easy as the first meeting.
Only this time around, the Patriots will essentially be playing for pride, as opposed to gearing up for the postseason.
That’s now the Dolphins job.
“It was good that we played them early, but it wasn’t a good thing we played them because they are a completely different team on film,” said Newton, “and they are playing with a lot of confidence.”
That’s the difference between the Dolphins team in Week 1, which had Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starting quarterback, and Week 15, as the Patriots will now have to defend rookie Tua Tagovailoa, who has gone 4-2 in the six games he’s started.
The Patriots?
How are they a different team from Week 1, Newton was asked? What the heck happened?
“Yeah. I mean, it just happens naturally and I think there are some things that we’ve shown and we’re trying to get to that same success of winning,” he said. “I think that is what is most important about this game.”
In other words, the Patriots are trying to end the season on a good note, while the Dolphins are trying to solidify their post-season position as a wild card entry.
That’s the difference. The Fins are going someplace, while the Patriots are headed into an offseason of unknowns and uncertainty.
Talk about a role reversal as the season essentially comes full circle for both clubs.
For all of Newton’s promise in the opener, he’s now 31st in the league when it comes to quarterback rating (78.9) and 32nd in passing yards per game (181.0).
It’ll be interesting to see if Newton can once again derail the Dolphins doing what he does best — using his legs — or if the Dolphins defense can take him and the run game away.
“Miami presents a problem for teams. They’re a very opportunistic team that leads the league in takeaways, I do believe,” Newton said (the Dolphins are in fact tops in the league with 25 turnovers forced). “They try to get the quarterback in a bind, not necessarily in making mistakes, but probably second-guessing.
“They challenge an offensive group as a whole to execute. I think if we have our mentality set to keep getting better, and stay on a certain side of making plays and extending drives, I think we’ll be good to go.”
Newton’s future was riding on his success or failure this season. And while he hasn’t made the best case, he’s still putting his best foot forward.
He wants to beat the Dolphins, same as Week 1.

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