Cam Newton and the Patriots: Perfect Strangers

The Patriots made one of the most intriguing offseason moves in the entire NFL with the signing of Cam Newton. The former league MVP was passed on by every other team in the NFL and the Carolina Panthers did him no favors in waiting so long to release him which hindered his options going into free agency. In the end, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots had been in contact with Newton for a few weeks prior to his release and eventually signed him to a one-year “prove it” deal that could be worth up to 7.5 million depending on his level of play. With just over two months before the intended start of the 2020 NFL season, Cam has a lot of catching up to do in one of the most complex systems in all of football.

Cam Newton

(Photo by Winslow Townson/AP)

So what will this new offense look like in the post-Brady era? Although it is still uncertain that Cam will win the starting quarterback position over Jarrett Stidham, for argument’s sake we will assume he wins the job. Newton’s abilities at the quarterback position are a complete 180 from what Tom Brady brought to the table. What Cam lacks in accuracy and the ability to pick apart a defense with his arm, he makes up for with his athleticism. Cam stands at a towering 6’5″ and weighs 250 pounds, which he has used to advantage throughout the course of his career. The obvious downside to this style of play is the risk of injury. Which has been a thorn in his side for the past two years, and is likely the reason other teams were hesitant to sign him. He did pass his physical and reports even say he is in the best shape of his life. What people are quick to forget is that in Newton’s first eight games in the 2018 season before getting injured, he led his team to a 6-2 start, almost 2,000 yards and a 15;4 touchdown-to-interception ratio. On top of that, he rushed for 342 yards and four touchdowns in those eight games. It is fair to question Cam’s durability at this stage in his career, but to simply chalk it up to him being “washed” is premature.

The offense that Carolina built around Newton is conveniently quite similar in structure to that of the New England Patriots. Strong offensive line, talented running backs that are utilized in the passing game, and a mediocre receiving core. The only thing that is not mirrored by New England is the presence of a seasoned veteran tight end like Greg Olsen. The Patriots ranked dead last in tight end production last year with a group that was led by 39 year old Ben Watson. Since then, they drafted two tight ends in the 3rd round of this year’s draft in hopes to fill those shoes that Rob Gronkowski left after his retirement. This similar looking offense may make it easier for Newton to adjust to, as opposed to going to a team with a completely different look and feel. I do not expect Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick to rely so heavily on Newton running the ball like what was asked of him in Carolina, but it will certainly be an element of the Patriots’ offense that was certainly not there with Tom Brady.

Make no mistake about it, this Patriots’ team will be carried by their defense, but the marriage of Cam Newton and Josh McDaniels‘ offensive creativity is an exciting thought that should have all Patriots’ fans excited. Mohamed Sanu, Julian Edelman, and N’Keal Harry will all be fresh at the start of season and will join Jakobi Meyers in a receiver room that has a lot of room for improvement, but also the potential to do so. James White will also continue to be relied on heavily in the passing attack, much like Christian McCaffrey is in Carolina. There is plenty to be excited about with this offense, and although things looked bleak for the Patriots after the departure of Brady, the rest of the NFL would be foolish to overlook them.

Photo: (Jeff Burke – US-Presswrite)

 

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