The New England Patriots are currently 2-5, which is their worst start in 20 years. And while most fans are surprised about the team's slow start, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had a blunt explanation on why his team isn't winning games. On WEEI in Boston, Belichick explained that talent has a lot to do with their issues this season.
"Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million. I mean it's obvious we didn't have any money. It's nobody's fault," he said. "That's what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in an AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It's not an excuse, it's just a fact."
The 2020 Patriots aren't as talented as they were when they won their last three Super Bowls (2014, 2016, 2018) but there are other factors in play. A number of key defensive players including linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung opted out of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Belichick won't admit the salary cap is a reason for their struggles, the team has $28.5 million in dead money, the seventh-most in the NFL.
Cam Newton, who signed with the team in June, isn't playing up to his standards. The former Carolina Panthers quarterback hasn't thrown a touchdown pass in the last three games and has been picked off five times during that span. Newton has a passer rating of 73.2, the lowest of his career.
"I still am jeopardizing this team’s success because of my lackluster performances of protecting the football,” Newton said after Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills as reported by AL.com. "Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands, and I wouldn’t want it any other way, and I've just got to do a better job of protecting it." Ultimately, the Patriots have to be better in all phases in order to turn things around. Belichick said it stars this Sunday when they face the New York Jets.
"Well, the situation we're in is that we play the Jets this week and that's what we can do this week is we can have a good week and prepare for the Jets and do everything we can to win," he said to reporters via the team's official website. "I don't know what would change that. Like if our record was different, I'm not sure how we would approach it differently."