The New England Patriots fans and many members of the media who cover the team are searching for answers to explain the team’s subpar season. Cam Newton’s sleep schedule got some time under the spotlight on Monday.
The Patriots were throttled 39-9 by the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. It marked one of the most lopsided losses during Belichick’s tenure and the defeat also ensured the Patriots would end the season with a losing record for the first time in 20 years.
When a team has been as successful as the Patriots, the fanbase and much of the media who have covered the team for years find it hard to comprehend losing on this scale. That bewilderment begets overanalysis and outside-the-box questions. A clear example of this took place this week when Newton’s sleep schedule was called into question.
Apparently, the embattled 31-year-old is sleeping very little since joining the Patriots. This graphic was shown during Monday’s game.
Cam Newton’s morning routine 😳 @brgridiron pic.twitter.com/tnJgyLxFyi
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 29, 2020
Newton confirmed it during his post-game presser.
(embed)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWf2C7HTXsg(/embed)VideoVideo related to cam newton’s insane sleep schedule blamed for ineffectiveness2020-12-29T01:53:54-05:00
Speculation and discussion flew across social media suggesting Newton’s sleeping habits were contributing to his struggles.
maybe Cam Newton is struggling because he’s getting 5 hours of sleep a night????????? https://t.co/cmMMhECCLB
— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) December 29, 2020
Cam Newton is sleep deprived https://t.co/hoxYCCFZnL
— 𝐄𝐱𝐚𝐯𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐏𝐨𝐩𝐞 (@exavierpope) December 29, 2020
So Cam Newton gets 5.5 hours of sleep each night? No wonder he’s not very good anymore.
Imagine how good he’d be with 8+ hours of sleep. pic.twitter.com/crbiyKipE4
— Tyler Rathke (@Coach_Rathke) December 29, 2020
Dude @CameronNewton get more sleep!
4:50 time in bed
4:20 hours asleep (tops)
2 hours REM + SWS (max)
I know plenty of pro athletes getting 2x those numbers. Cams potential is in bed!
cc @parsa_s https://t.co/MLHGLafSZO
— Will Ahmed (@willahmed) December 29, 2020
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Is Sleep Deprivation the Problem?
There is no question, human beings, especially adult athletes need to get ample sleep to perform and to remain healthy. Several elite athletes like LeBron James and others have talked about how important sleep is to their athletic sustenance.
However, while Newton’s 5 hours of sleep per night are clearly not ideal, no one was talking about insomnia after Week 3 when the primary discussion was signing the former MVP to a contract extension.
Newton had led the Patriots to a 2-1 record with a combination of dominance in the red zone and making enough plays with his arm to support the team’s standard running game and what was, at the time, a solid defense.
The Real Reasons for the Struggles
The reasons for the Patriots’ struggles in 2020 are layered.
COVID-19 has impacted every team in the league, but arguably no organization has been hit as hard as the Patriots. The team lost 8 players to opt-outs, which was a league-high. They also lost Newton, Stephon Gilmore, and others to positive COVID-19 results.
Newton’s issue came just after the third week of the season, and you could make the argument he, nor the team has been the same since.
COVID-19 negatively impacted every team’s practice schedules, but the Patriots were especially thrown for a loop when their game against the Denver Broncos had to be rescheduled multiple times in November because of an outbreak that appeared to start with Newton’s positive test.
All of those issues are real ones.
However, the biggest problem likely happened even before the season began. Because of COVID, teams had an abbreviated offseason which meant far less preparation for everyone. This is especially a problem for a quarterback coming into a brand-new system on short notice, who is also trying to shake away rust after missing almost an entire year with a shoulder and foot injury.
Newton was in that exact situation. Things were stacked against him from the beginning, but perhaps if one of those issues hadn’t been a reality, maybe the results would be a little different.