OK, that’s enough. You tried. We tried. It’s not working. It’s not you Cam, it’s us.
Actually, it is you. And we’re concerned about us watching you play quarterback for the Patriots past the point where you are contractually tied to them. So after January 3, clean break.
Playoffs? Ummm ... ok. Fine. Playoffs. Then done.
It’s better for everybody. You don’t need to turn into a fanbase and media piñata tethered to an offense that’s overly reliant on your legs and terrified of your arm.
We don’t need another season pretending the path back to competitiveness should be blazed by a quarterback who really can’t throw.
The Patriots could have done a lot worse than having Cam Newton be the immediate successor to Tom Brady.
Who else out there had the personality and self-confidence to say, “Yeah, Tom was great but wait until you get a load of me!” and back it up right out of the gate?
For a million bucks, the Patriots got a likable, hard-working guy with a magnetic personality that has stiff-upper-lipped it every step of the way.
He’s taken the physical beating. He’s refrained from complaining about the dearth of talented wideouts and tight ends. And he’s made up for shortcomings in the Patriots' roster-building and his own throwing ability by willingly running it as well as any Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan. For, once again, a million bucks.
In 10 games, Newton’s got four touchdown passes, nine interceptions, three fumbles, and has taken 18 sacks. The Patriots are 5-5 in those games because he’s also run it 92 times for 387 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s rushed for 39 first downs in 10 games.
He’s a walking break-even proposition. Sunday was a perfect example. The clinching example.
The Patriots' first 17 points were set up by a 53-yard kickoff return, a 58-yard punt return and a pick that put them in business at the Cardinals' 31.
The game-winning points came after Newton threw a god-awful pick. A would-be game-deciding pick. But the Patriots defense kept them out of chip-shot field goal range.
The route to Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal? Two tentative play calls that each lost yards. Then a 14-yard designed run by Newton on third-and-13 that gained 14 – 29 after the questionable unnecessary roughness call on Isaiah Simmons.
If not for Newton’s horrible pick, the Patriots wouldn’t have had to sweat out Zane Gonzalez’ missed field goal. If not for Newton’s scrambling ability, they wouldn’t have picked up that first down or the penalty.
Cam giveth. Cam taketh away. Not necessarily in that order. But eventually, in every game, both are bound to happen.
If not for Cam, the Patriots aren’t close to winning in Seattle. If not for Cam, maybe they win in Buffalo. We can do this 10 times, five each way.
If you’re a regular reader you may wonder why I’ve gone from, “Keep Cam in the plans …” to, “That’s enough.”
It’s because -- even though Newton went from a three-pick benching against the Niners on October 25 until Sunday without throwing a pick – every week is a white-knuckle ride. They are playing a high-school style, run-first offense in which throwing the ball isn’t so much a complement to the running game as a grudging admission that you can’t run it every time.
They’d love to. That’s their path to staying in games and hanging around until the other team makes a mistake. And it’s worked, Sunday once again being a prime example of that.
But who’s kidding who? Nobody wants to watch a team that follows up 19 seasons of brilliance with an offensive philosophy that can be summed up in these five words: “Just don’t do anything stupid.”
The optics of Newton sadly embracing Josh McDaniels and appearing to say, “I’m sorry, man…” after Folk’s game-winner was “Awwwwww” inducing. I imagine it was hard for anyone to not feel a little badly for Newton. Even though he nearly ruined everything.
Nobody’s really going to get better with another year of Cam running an anachronistic offense. Poor N’Keal Harry, for instance, would be having enough problems justifying his draft status as is. With this offense he’s basically a detached, roving fullback.
For one season – a season the likes of which we will never see again (dear God, let that be true) – Cam Newton has been the perfect band-aid. He delivered us from Stiddy. He’s allowed the team to dodge the humiliation of a full-on, post-Brady cratering.
After this, though?
We call it a year and hope like hell you show up for all the alumni events and consider yourself a pretty important part of Patriots history. Then, all the fans that didn’t get to show up in 2020 and alternately cheer and boo you? They get the chance to shower you with some love for coming up for a paltry salary and pouring your heart into it.
And everyone can always look back on your time here and say, “That was ... something.”