By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Hopefully the 2020 Patriots season ends better than the final season of Game of Thrones. But Cam Newton invoked a famous quote from the HBO series' glory days to set the stage for December, as the quarterback looks to find consistency amid up-and-down performances on the field.
Winter is coming, and hopefully so is the best version of Cam Newton.
If Foxboro is going to be one of the AFC's seven kingdoms to compete in January, Newton is going to have to find another level from what he's shown for most of the season. He's well aware of this and in turn has remained humble. That's where he looked to Ygritte's memorable refrain to Jon Snow, pulled directly from the pages of George R.R. Martin's A Storm of Swords.
“Do I know certain things? Yes. Do you know how people are going to play you? No," Newton said Thursday. "And this game, I have always said it, it comes down to reacting and when that play is called - when Josh gives the play call - that 40 seconds that you have to call the play, it really comes down to how do you react faster than the defense to executing. Have I done it consistently? Not to my liking, but I am getting there. It’s just a learning curve.
"It’s just learning each and every day in the famous words of a quote from Game of Thrones, ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow.’ That’s been my mentality each and every day. Just try and stay open-minded and learn as much as I possibly can."
Newton also gave plenty of deference to House Belichick, led by Bill and Josh McDaniels and quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch. Newton has clearly bought in to the Patriots experience. He's saying all the right things and earning universal praise from teammates and coaches for his leadership. Unfortunately, that simply hasn't translated to the same level of success on Sundays.
The quarterback took a step in the wrong direction last Sunday against the Cardinals, posting a 23.6 passer rating. Newton's turnover issues resurfaced with two interceptions, one on the Patriots' first drive of the game and a near-backbreaker late in the fourth quarter. He's intermittently flashed as a passer and his nine rushing touchdowns partially offset the lack of production through the air. But his fundamentals, finer details, and pure execution have been too inconsistent, resulting mostly in coming up just short in crunch time of competitive games.
It's beyond fair to be concerned that Newton is still searching for his best football 13 weeks into the season. The Patriots would need to finish 10-6 to have more than a 60 percent chance of making the playoffs. Those are their odds of getting in if they finish 9-7 and lose to the Rams, according to the New York Times' playoff simulator. If they drop one in the AFC, The Path™ is almost permanently closed.
But if Newton can't learn a lot, quickly, and get to playing at a high level consistently then flush the math down the toilet. Banish it to the Night's Watch. Or send it to the Sarlacc pit, maybe. Newton made a Star Wars reference, too.
"I know that I don’t know enough and there’s also a side of me where I can say I came a long way in this system, but I am still learning," Newton said. "I think that is my [character] that each and every day I know that I have yet to play my best football and I am getting more and more comfortable all under the graces of obviously Dolla Bill, Mickey Ds and coach Jedi."
Matt Dolloff and Alex Barth discussed Cam Newton and the Patriots' quarterback situation on the newest Pats Pod. You can listen below.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff or send him a nasty email at [email protected].