NFL: Buffalo Bills at New England Patriots

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton walks to the locker room after the Patriots lost to the Buffalo Bills 38-9 at Gillette Stadium on Monday night.

Cam Newton has mostly not gotten the job done at quarterback for the Patriots this season, but it’s not for a lack of effort, and he’s not the only one to blame for the offense’s struggles, his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels insisted.

Newton’s problems in the passing game continued in Monday night’s 38-9 loss to the Bills, when he was just 5-for-10 for a season-low 34 yards before being pulled in the third quarter for backup Jarrett Stidham. It was yet another ugly performance for the quarterback, who has thrown just five touchdown passes this season and ranks at the bottom of the league in almost every passing category. But through all the struggles, his work ethic has never once been questioned.

“Cam, he’s done a tremendous job,” McDaniels said Tuesday. “He studies, he works extremely hard, as hard as any player that I’ve coached and he comes in prepared each day, he prepares hard for every practice, every session we have and he’s ready to go each week at the game and he gives us everything he’s got.

“To me, you can’t attach your self-worth and all that stuff to the result of a game or one certain season, and Cam’s done a lot for a long time and he’s given us everything he’s got. There’s nothing else I could ask for as a coach.

“Have there been mistakes made? Yeah, that’s across the board. There’s no question about it. Our whole group, we need better and that’s my job, so we need to do a better job of figuring that out, putting them in positions to be successful, coaching them properly, and obviously being able to make more plays and score more points.

“But as far as Cam Newton is concerned, he’s obviously earned the respect of this entire building and organization, every coach and player in here, the way we feel about him won’t change.”

That respect is evident in that no one will blame Newton alone for the passing game’s issues. Head coach Bill Belichick has backed him all season, and still has not taken away Newton’s starting job — though it’s certainly possible a change could be made in Sunday’s season finale against the Jets — and McDaniels took accountability for a passing offense that ranks third-worst in the NFL heading into the final week.

“There’s a lot of reasons why you have success in the passing game, there’s a lot of reasons why you don’t,” McDaniels said. “Everyone points to the quarterback and that’s fair. He’s handled that burden, that responsibility and criticism with tremendous grace and class all year long, as he should and I would expect. That’s what leaders do.

“But certainly there’s many reasons why we haven’t had the success in the passing game. It’s certainly not just the quarterback. Again, put it back on me. It’s my responsibility to figure out how to get this group to be successful in the pass game, the run game, whatever the situation may be.”

Faked outBelichick said Tuesday that the Patriots were outcoached in all three phases of Monday’s game, and that especially includes special teams, where the Bills successfully performed some trickery.

The Bills lined up for a punt late in the first quarter, but the Patriots showed a look with all their defenders at the line of scrimmage and left both of Buffalo’s gunners on the outside open. Jaquan Johnson alertly took the direct snap and found Siran Neal for a 13-yard conversion, helping the Bills march down for a go-ahead touchdown.

Patriots special teams coach Cam Achord credited the Bills on Tuesday. “They made a good play right there,” Achord said.

“They were able to execute and able to come through and we just didn’t finish. It starts with me putting our guys in a position to make the play ... and it obviously starts with me. ...

“The players executed everything like we designed and what we’re trying to do. Just credit to them. They made a good play right there and we’re just trying to generate a positive play and they obviously made a good play for themselves and were able to flip it right there on us.”