Should New England Stick With Cam Newton?

It’s a question that has been in the back of everyone’s minds since the start of training camp. Should the Patriots stick with Cam Newton after the 2020 season? Short answer, yes. Long answer, let’s dive into it.

Let’s face it, Cam Newton was set up to fail before he even entered the New England facilities. Whether the media or fans want to admit it or not, he was. Newton is the first QB in 20 years, filling the shoes of Tom Brady would cause most to completely crumble under the pressure. 

Signing Newton

News broke that the Patriots signed Cam Newton on June 28th of this year. More than a week later, on July 8th, it became official. Cam Newton was set to be a Patriot. He didn’t have the offseason most had to gain trust and chemistry with the offense but he did make sure to get in all the time he could with the receivers before training camp even started. Newton was also coming to a New England team that has the most players opt-out of the 2020 season, notably down a starting lineman, Marcus Cannon.

First 3 Games

The season started off with a bang for Newton. The first three weeks New England finished 2-1, with the lone loss coming against a very complete Seattle team on a last-second play that, unfortunately, didn’t go the Patriots way. Newton’s performances were more than I had expected. He completed 68% of his passes for 714 yards, including 2 touchdown passes. The downside, he also threw two interceptions. Newton rushed for 149 yards on 35 carries and 4 touchdowns. A quarterback that can move, a sight that New England fans took a liking to quickly.  

Return from COVID

Cam Newton was out of the picture after testing positive for COVID-19 on October 3rd. He was activated from the Reserve/COVID-19 list on October 14th. Reports say that he was asymptomatic, however, his body was still fighting an infection. With that, and the lack of practice for Newton and the entire team, there’s bound to be a setback. The first three games following Newton’s return from coronavirus were big losses, most notably at home against the 49ers. Newton’s completion percentage dropped to 63% and only threw for 429 yards. He had no touchdowns and 5 interceptions in the air. His rushing game was also looking lackluster. Newton stayed consistent with another 149 yards rushing, on fewer attempts, but began to fumble the ball. He fumbled three times, losing only one. The one lost fumble was the worst, the end of the Buffalo game which he and the offense as a whole showed a lot of improvement outside of that final play.

Bouncing Back

Following the loss against San Francisco, I was really nervous. Everyone and their neighbor were talking about tanking (I hate tanking, it’s stupid and there’s no way a Bill Belichick-led team would do that) and I was beginning to question what I was doing to my blood pressure every Sunday. All I asked, okay begged, the football Gods for was glimpses of improvement. There were flashes of hope in the Buffalo game. The two games since the loss to Buffalo showed even more improvement from the offense. Newton’s completion percentage was back up to an incredible 77% for 392 yards. He was finally back and throwing a single touchdown pass and 0 interceptions. His rushing game was sidelined more for his passing game, but still rushed for 37 yards and scored 3 more rushing touchdowns.

Final Thoughts

I think the Patriots got a steal signing Cam Newton. Don’t get me wrong, there are things that Newton needs to work on, but I think he’s the best bet going forward for the time being. He needs to work on his pocket awareness and having a complete understanding of the playbook would help his ability to audible if he isn’t liking what the defense is showing him. I also think that with the addition of Marcus Cannon on the offensive line, Newton would have a more secure pocket. The offensive line has been rotating guys in and out for quite a few weeks, a steady, set line would help immeasurably. Newton has improved a ton since coming back from COVID and having consistent practice again. He’s seemingly gotten out of his own head after a couple of awful outings. It’s nice to see his confidence in his playmaking ability on the rise again.

-Jess Donahue (@jldx392)

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