Cam Newton isn't retiring, and he's not throwing his teammates under the bus, even with the playoffs no longer a possibility for his Patriots.
Newton took to Instagram Monday afternoon to send a clear, direct message to those following New England.
"Dear Patriot Nation, I will be the first to tell you that this year has been unacceptable in more ways than one!!" Newton wrote. "And the standard has been and always have been set; and unfortunately we (I) did not live up to what that standard was at all times or consistently enough!! With that being said the answer(s) is (are) in the locker room and one thing I do know about this bunch is that this locker room is filled with guys who want to be a part of the solution including me!!
"All things considered; you will not see any 'finger pointing' or 'excuse making' but more accountability being placed on the guys (me) to get the job done!! I think I speak for myself and others when I say challenge accepted!!"
Newton caused a bit of confusion with a comment in which he asserted the Patriots included "guys who don't get it," which he explained was "not as negative as it sounds" during an appearance on WEEI on Monday.
"We are depending on a lot of people who are not used to the pressures of being a New England Patriots player," Newton said. "And honestly, if I am being honest and candid, I am one of those players."
Sunday's loss officially eliminated the Patriots from postseason contention, ending their run of consecutive playoff appearances that stretched back to 2008. The last time the Patriots missed the playoffs, Newton was a backup quarterback at the University of Florida, still a year from starring at Blinn College, and two from winning the Heisman Trophy and BCS National Championship at Auburn.
It's been a long time, and 2020 was far below the standard of the Patriot Way. Newton hasn't been especially great, either, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 2,381 yards, but a 5-10 TD-INT ratio. His rushing has helped offset things, gaining 489 yards and scoring 11 touchdowns on 122 attempts, yet this Patriots offense hasn't been consistent enough to get the job done -- a problem that extends well beyond Newton, too.
With that in mind, Newton said he "can't go out like this," adding he still has plenty to prove as long as he's afforded the opportunity.
"I am going to leave it up to the people who I've been leaving it up to since day one," Newton said. "I am still on the job interview, to be honest with you."
While spending the morning lamenting the pandemic's impact on his ability (or lack thereof) to grow closer with his teammates amid on-field struggles, Newton returned in the afternoon to vow to fight through such adversity going forward. Two games won't rescue New England's 2020 hopes, but they might help Newton's case for a 2021 with the Patriots -- or another needy NFL team.