Bedard’s Breakdown: Why the Patriots’ defense was the bigger concern in 49ers debacle

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(Adam Richins for BSJ)

Everyone can see that Cam Newton and the Patriots' offense is scuffling right now. For whatever reason — and it's NOT some Covid fog since, you know, he never had any symptoms — Newton has regressed in each of his last three starts from the promising start against the Dolphins and Seahawks.

There's no other way to say it: Newton was atrocious again in the first half against the 49ers.  His decision-making was poor, he was late making his reads, accuracy was an issue — and that was against a Cover 3 scheme that was similar to the Seahawks.

But at least the Patriots strung several successful plays together on the two drives to start the second half, mostly avoiding their grenade offense and — can you believe it? — actually holding onto the ball.

Yes, they ended in poor plays — Michael Onwenu and Newton appeared to be at fault on a first-down sack at the 49ers' 21-yard line that short-circuited the first drive, and Newton was way too slow coming to Julian Edelman on the checkdown that led to his third and final interception — but at least there was progress.

And with more practice time and a very familiar opponent coming up in the Bills and Sean McDermott (Newton's defensive coordinator for six years in Carolina) — the Raiders, Broncos and 49ers were all unfamiliar and those games can be tough to get a handle on — perhaps the Patriots can build on that and their running game against a bad Bills defense.

But the Patriots' own defense?

Bill Belichick's favored sons were completely exposed by Kyle Shanahan to the point that other teams should be expected to follow the plan that finally pummeled New England's biggest weakness: