It’s no secret the Patriots were in need of dire improvement on offense following a lackluster 2020 season, and they have made some exciting additions on the offensive side of the ball so far this off-season. As great as this off-season has been for the Patriots, one thing remains uncertain… who will be throwing the ball to these playmakers?
It was made glaringly obvious that the Patriots had no plan at the quarterback position following Tom Brady’s departure prior to last season. If we look back, the Patriots didn’t sign their eventual QB1 Cam Newton until July 8th. Now for the second straight off-season, the Patriots have uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position. Will it be Cam again? Will Jarrett Stidham finally get his shot? Or will they take a quarterback in the draft?
I do think the Patriots will select a quarterback in this year’s draft. So rest assured, Cam haters. But that doesn’t mean Cam isn’t the most fit for the starting job.
Yes, I know, Cam Newton’s 2020 campaign was TERRIBLE, and that is putting it nicely. Cam was one of the, if not the, worst starting quarterbacks in 2020. Can we ever expect to see the 2015-2016 Cam Newton again? Realistically, probably not. He is 31 years old and has suffered a long list of injuries throughout his career, including two shoulder surgeries. But I do think Cam can still be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL.
Before we point out his numbers from last season, we need to look at a couple of things. When the Patriots acquired Newton, it was clear they were going to have to switch up the offense. Obviously, Cam Newton plays much different than Tom Brady, and the offense was going to have to be adjusted accordingly. An adjustment the Patriots’ players and coaches haven’t had to adapt to in 20 years.
Again, Newton wasn’t signed by the Patriots until July 8th, giving him just under two months to learn a new playbook, that even the coaches weren’t familiar with. The pandemic did not make things easier for Cam, as he had to learn this new offense virtually.
Aside from the new offense, we need to address the elephant in the room, the Patriots’ offensive threats. A group that even Tom Brady struggled with, as he had one of the worst years of his career with this bunch in 2019. Brady finished with a 60.8 completion percentage (second-lowest in his career), 24 passing touchdowns (second-lowest in his career), and 8 interceptions. Sure, they went 12-4, but that was not a 12-4 team, and they showed finishing 5-4 in their last 9 games and losing to Tennesse in the Wild Card. Not for nothing, but Tom Brady has been praised his whole career for making his receivers better, and even he couldn’t succeed with this group.
The leading receiver for the Patriots for the 2019 season was Julian Edelman finishing with 1,117 yards on the season. Edelman only played in 5 games with Newton in 2020 before suffering a knee injury that caused him to miss the remainder of the season, making things even more difficult for Cam. In week 2 of the 2020 season against the Seahawks, Newton and Edleman hooked up for 8 receptions and 179 yards, a career-high for Julian Edelman. Newton also finished with 397 passing yards, which was his season-high. When Edelman went down, Jakobi Meyers stepped in as the #1 receiver for the Patriots. Meyers did a good job stepping in for the Pats, but he is not a #1 receiver, and the fact he was the Patriots’ main receiving threat is worrisome.
Now, the Patriots’ offense is starting to look like a unit that can compete in the NFL. The additions of Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor should prove valuable for Newton and the Patriots as they are significant upgrades from the group last season. A team fit for Cam Newton, who hasn’t really played with stud wideout except for Steve Smith (2011-2013) but has excelled with good tight ends.
Cam played his best ball between 2013 and 2016. At the time, his top pass catcher in Carolina was Greg Olsen. In the years 2014, 2015, and 2016, Olsen made the pro bowl each year and surpassed 1,000 yards each season. Outside of Olsen, Cam was throwing to Devin Funchess (Similar to N’Keal Harry with his speed and height), Ted Ginn Jr. (Similar to Nelson Agohlor with his speed and big-play ability), and Kelvin Benjamin (Who I won’t compare anyone to because that would be mean).
During Cam’s best years in Carolina, they were a run-heavy team and the offense was run through the tight ends… similar to what the Patriots could be looking at this season. The Pats have all the tools to make Cam successful. A stout offensive line, two great tight ends, and speedy receivers on the outside. Similar to what Cam had when he was at his best. Again, we will probably never see the MVP Cam Newton we saw six years ago, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a quality quarterback for the Patriots.
I am very excited to see what Cam Newton can do with a full off-season and a revamped offense around him. Besides, it’s hard not to root for Cam, the league is fun when Cam is winning.