A Surprising Cookie: Was Cam Newton a fit for the New England Patriots?
By Joanne Kong
After nine years with the Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton has joined the New England Patriots. The biggest question was how would Newton fit in the New England Patriots’ system. Perhaps the better question should have been “what is the New England Patriots System?”
Bill Belichick stated in an interview:
“We always try to do what’s best for the team to win. Everything we’ve done for the last 20 years, and rightfully so, has been for Tom Brady. It was for Tom Brady. Everything was dedicated to him, other than the games that he didn’t play in, like when [Matt] Cassel played or Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then Jacoby [Brissett] when Brady was suspended. So there were times when we had to plan differently, but when your starting quarterback has things that he’s good at or things that you can take advantage of, then I think you try to take advantage of them.”
Looking at Sunday’s game, that’s exactly what Belichick and his coaching staff did – they revised the team’s playbook specifically focusing on Newton’s mobility.
“Well, some of those runs were option-type runs, so we don’t know who’s going to get the ball. It depends on how the defense plays. It’s not like handing the ball off to the halfback and running up the middle. When you run plays that have some type of an option to them, you don’t know for sure who’s going to get the ball. That’s just an unpredictable part of that play.”
Cam Newton vs Tom Brady Week 1:
155 Pass Yds 239
0 INT 2
78.9 CPM% 63.8
0 Pass TD 2
75 Rush Yds 9
2 Rush TD 1
Win Result Loss pic.twitter.com/t9vEX3EfrX
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 13, 2020
Cam Newton likes to scramble, as was evident in week 1 of the 2020 season, and the playbook definitely highlighted Newton calling his own number. But that didn’t mean he didn’t pass the ball just enough to loosen up the defense, as Newton completed 15 of 19 passes for 155 lean yards and no passing touchdowns. Julian Edelman had the most targets of the night with 7 followed by sophomore N’Keal Harry with 6 targets.
Cam Newton didn't throw a single unforced inaccurate pass yesterday.
— Edelman drop
— Two passes batted the line
— Two "throwaways" while under pressure in Edelman's direction
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) September 14, 2020
On the ground was vintage Newton, as he carried the ball 15 times for 75 rush yards and two rushing touchdowns. Long considered a passing team, the Patriots totaled 42 rushes for 217 yards in Week 1. Good things can happen when Newton runs consistently, as his most successful season in Carolina, which ended in an appearance in Super Bowl 50, featured his 2nd most rush attempts per game (8.3), 2nd most rushing TDs (10) and 3rd most rush yards (636) of his career.
Cam Newton has set the Patriots franchise record for rushing yards by a quarterback in a single game.
— Guy Boston Sports (@GuyBostonSports) September 13, 2020
Without Tom Brady, the AFC East was thought to be up for grabs, and it is. With the Buffalo Bills strong showing against the New York Jets in week 1, it seems Newton and the Patriots will have some competition in the AFC East. As I mentioned, Newton isn’t a stranger to reaching the Super Bowl. After a disappointing 10-24 loss, however, Newton was unable to reach the Championship again. Could 2020 be Newton’s second Super Bowl appearance? So far, so good, as he seems to be taking well to Belichick’s modified system, and it’s clear he’s happy to have an opportunity to start. Whether he succeeds or fails as a New England Patriot, one thing is for certain…
Cam Newton certainly hasn’t loss his style.😎
— Dasher (@kid_delivery) September 14, 2020
Tangetially Relevant Side Note:
Cam Newton isn’t the only Carolina Panther who found success with a new team in week 1. After being fired by the Panthers in 2019, and being diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, Ron Rivera became the first head coach of the newly named Washington Football Team. Washington also started the season 1-0 against NFC East division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles. With a new coach, a new name and second overall draft pick Chase Young, the Washington Football Team’s pass rush racked up eight sacks of Carson Wentz, making the Eagles offensive line look like Swiss cheese. It didn’t stop there as the Football Team defense also tallied 2-interceptions and a fumble recovery.
Washington's Head Coach Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, got a planned IV at halftime in order to make sure he could continue in the 2nd half. Then got his first W as Washington’s HC. pic.twitter.com/8YQmqxoErc
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 13, 2020
Up next, I discuss Teddy Bridgewater in his new home with the Carolina Panthers!