“Patriots–Will Cam Be the Man?”
The trip to the Super Bowl, the NFL-MVP Award, all those great games seems a long time ago.
Cam Newton knows it and so do the New England Patriots. But that did not stop him from signing a 1-year free agent contract for an NFL veteran’s minimum of 1.1M with bonuses that could net him 7.5M if he winds up starting and driving the Patriots into the playoffs.
Bill Belicheck, ever the river-boat gambler on acquiring veteran players, needs to find the heir apparent to the since departed Tom Brady.
When the Patriots open camp in 4-weeks, Newton and his Carolina Panthers credentials, will come into camp to compete with young backup QB-Jarrett Stidham, three years removed from a sparkling career at Auburn. The 3rd QB in the mix will be lifetime journeyman, Brian Hoyer, whose best days came on bad Cleveland Browns football teams.
Newton arrives having to prove his health, his football knowledge, and his on-field acumen. He won’t be running the ‘read-option’ package that he used in driving Carolina to that one mystical (15-1) season in 2015. That package led to shoulder surgery and foot surgery. He no longer is what he once was physically.
The bigger debate is, what kind of quarterback is he intellectually? Will he be able to consume the depth of knowledge Josh McDaniels demands from a quarterback? Will the weird mechanical flaws that cropped up sometime, resurface?
The Patriots great success, the 6-Super Bowl rings, come from Belicheck’s defense, but also from Tom Brady’s brilliance.
You cannot ignore Brady’s (219-64) record as a starter. Newton pales in comparison (68-55), and the reality he went (23-23) his last three years with the injury issues.
Brady left Foxboro with a (541TD-179Int) ratio over 20-years. Newton has a (182-TD-109Int-55Fu) record stapled to his resume.
Brady finished his time in New England with (74,571Y) and career QB rating of (97). Newton has accounted for (33,847) all purpose yards and a lifetime rating of 86.
In Brady’s tenure, 6X-he posted a QB rating over 100…including a career high 117 mark one season. Newton’s highest ever was a 99-rating one time.
Newton is career (59%) completion rate-Brady (67%)
In what might be a comedown, Newton has to compete for the starting job, and his 18M-salary from a year ago is just 1.1M to start this year. Talk about attitude adjustments.
Playing for the Patriots is more than just passing yards and touchdowns. It’s about pre-snap reads, it is accuracy, it’s not turning the ball over. It’s a pretty fierce atmosphere of intolerance to mistakes at that position if you are having your mail sent to Gillette Stadium, just off Route 1-in New England.
For all the flash and dance that Cam Newton displayed once upon a time in Carolina, there are still concerns about his mechanics, his arm slots, his footwork. No doubts about his leadership or personality. But this is a different time for sure, but there are so many things important to a Belicheck led team.
It’s been a long time since he had success. It has been a long time since the Patriots experienced QB-failure, not since Brady replaced an injured Drew Bledsoe a long time ago.
Fascinating times ahead in July and August in New England, to see if Cam can be the man, since the man, Tom Brady, is no longer there to carry the franchise.