Cam Newton's recent play has been under a microscope -- and that closer look has revealed a curious pattern.
The Patriots quarterback completed just 9 of 15 passes for 98 yards Sunday and threw three interceptions before being benched in New England's 33-6 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
Guess how many of Newton's 15 attempts were thrown to the right of the numbers? NFL Next Gen Stats has your answer: zero.
We'll direct you next to Newton' pass chart from the Patriots' Week 6 loss to the Denver Broncos. You'll notice a similar theme: Newton only attempted three passes to the right of the right hash mark.
What's going on here? Is Newton favoring the left side of the field due to a mechanical issue in his throwing motion that perhaps cropped up after he missed two weeks while on the team's COVID-19/reserve list?
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was asked to explain Tuesday.
"Sometimes I think it’s maybe more of a coincidence than planning," McDaniels told reporters in a conference call. "Again, relative to being right-handed or left-handed in the formationing, setting the protections certain ways can certainly impact where the ball ends up going.
"There’s certainly no intent on just putting the ball in a certain spot on the field. We’re aware of that, and we’ll make sure we do the right things. I think the most important thing is to do the right thing based on the team you’re playing and the matchups you have and we’ll see how that all plays out this week."
Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch agreed with his offensive coordinator, chalking Newton's left-side favoritism up to "coincidence."
"I think that's really just been the way the plays have developed," Fisch said. "There’s guys on both sides of the field that are part of each play and we’re not really cutting half the field off.
"I think it’s more than anything just the way the last couple of weeks have worked themselves out — where the balls have landed, where the throws have gone, where he’s maybe had to get out of the pocket. I think that just happens to be coincidence than circumstance."
Whatever the explanation, the Patriots clearly need to change things up entering a Week 8 matchup with the Buffalo Bills. New England's offense has been held to under 300 total yards in back-to-back games, and the Bills held the New York Jets to 190 total offensive yards in Week 7.
Perhaps it's time for Newton to consider the right side of the field.