C/O to bostonherald.com
The deal is done! Just a few days ago 31 year old quarterback Cam Newton has resigned with the New England Patriots on a one-year deal worth $14 million. The former NFL MVP and Rookie of Year will remain with the team that signed him just last season to one-year deal worth $7 million.
The Patriots went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, bringing in a lot of mixed feelings of what the Patriots should do going into next season.
In this discussion I'll be diving into a few Pros and Cons that Cam Newton brings before giving my final verdict of how you should be feeling about the quarterback returning to lead the charge for New England.
C/O of cbssports.com
I know this is pretty general, but something that Cam Newton brings to the table is his ambition to win. Boston sports fans know their city to be called, "The City of Champions" seeing Cam Newton with this attitude goes a long way with people. Coming into a dynasty built by the great Tom Brady and Bill Belichick had seen Six Super Bowl Titles and numerous playoff records. Cam Newton has big shoes to fill, and he's taken it with stride.
In one of his first interviews Newton stated, "Like I’m feeling disrespected. Because every team at one point had to say, ‘OK, fellas, Cam Newton. What do we think? Uhhhh, pass.’ You feel me? And that’s the disrespect that I feel. I feel vindicated to some degree, but I’m searching for — I’m aiming at, I’m going at necks all year.” (Sam Minton) All season long Cam Newton had been fighting the get that chip off his shoulder, and as a spectator you could clearly see he was giving it his all. Whether passing or running the football Cam was playing with a purpose. Only one team gave him the opportunity to succeed and I truly am satisfied with the way Cam strove to lead this team to the playoffs.
He takes it as a personal challenge, where have we seen this before? *COUGH COUGH* *Tom Brady* A guy who every time saw someone doubt him, stepped up and said "think again". Obviously I'm not saying Cam is anything close to the great Tom Brady but he believes in the system that Brady had while he was a Patriot. This idea of bringing that winning attitude everyday will bring success, that really goes a long way coming from the eyes of a fan. Seeing Cam getting the sideline pumped up, celebrating with teammates after touchdowns and giving positive responses to media. Bottom line, Cam wants to be here, he wants to win.
C/O of bostonherald.com
Cam Newton's production, when it was cooking, what a sight it was to see. Matchups against the Jets, Chargers, Raiders, Ravens, Texans and Seahawks Cam Newton delivered solid performances throughout. One might say well he didn't play well consistently throughout, but hang in there, these games give hope that Cam Newton still has something left in the tank.
Week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks was the moment everyone started saying, "Cam is Back" and why wouldn't you? Newton passed for 397 yards on 30/44, with one passing touchdown, an INT and rushed for 47 yards on 11 rushing attempts scoring twice. Delivering critical deep passes to players like Julian Edelman and Damiere Byrd nearly picking up a third on the ground with the final seconds of the game ticking away as he was stopped and the Patriots were defeated 35-30. Although the Patriots lost, Cam Newton shined throughout and it appeared as a rebirth was on the rise. Obviously we didn't see a game like that all season but you give Cam more time in the system and he'll flourish.
Another great instance was against the New York Jets, Week 9, in the Meadowlands. Cam was constantly under pressure most of that game but made some amazing throws finishing the game with 274 passing yards on 27/35 passing attempts and 10 carries for 16 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. The Patriots were constantly fighting to get back into the playoff conversation and this game was a huge part of that. Despite everything that was coming at Cam this game he held strong and produced that yardage and production in order to secure the Patriots a victory.
So why should you care? Cam has had his struggles and complete lows throughout the 2020 season, but talk about missing a season before to back surgery and cut the guy some slack. When Cam Newton was on his A-Game with the Carolina Panthers he produced and made them a major threat for the NFC. People still kept Cam Newton in mind as a threat because he still is, these games are small examples of that.
The problem is Cam is still held in the shadow of Tom Brady, this is a system he was signed to in July of last year. Let alone a system that had to adjust to him. With Cam Newton the Patriots rushing offense ranked 4th in the league averaging 146.6 yards per game with a total of 2346 rushing yards (4th). That's ahead of rushing attacks from Dalvin Cook and Alvin Kamara, both top 10 running backs. Newton rushed for 592 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns, two shy of tying his rookie record of 14 rushing TDS. The run games there and that's a good thing, because it's something Belichick and coaching staff can work with in the future. Cam has been thrown into a totally different offense, team and culture, give him time to settle and we will see more production out of this man.
C/O @ bostonglobe.com
I'm probably going to get critiqued for not being specific with the Pros I mentioned before... but you want me to get specific? Here you go. Passing. Wow don't even get me started here. I never seen a quarterback pass for less than 150 yards a game until...Cam Newton. Passing for 2,657 passing yards (24th) throwing for 8 TDS (33rd) and 10 INTS (Tied 18th) and averaging 177.1 yards per game which is dead last in the league for passing yards a game. So there's a lot to unravel here.
Cam Newton only eclipsed over 300 pass yards in two games and over 200 yards in 3 games, by most NFL standards that's unacceptable coming from your starter. In Week 7 against the San Fransisco 49ers Cam was 9/15 on passing attempts and only threw for 98 Yards and 3 INTS as the Patriots were blown out 33-6 in Foxborough. The reason I'm highlighting this game is because this is where we saw the turning point in everyones opinion of Cam. He looked uncomfortable, made horrible decisions through the air, he was just lost.
This was a trend that continued throughout the year as he would average under 170 yards a game, quarterbacks like Sam Darnold and Mitchell Trubisky averaged higher yards per game than Cam. Awful, horrible teams made the Patriots offense look one dimensional as a run first team, because Cam couldn't throw a pass to save his life. God it makes me cringe just talking about it, it felt coaching staff was running it because they knew they couldn't trust Cam in the pocket. This is a problem that clearly needs to be addressed this offense if Cam wants to be successful down the stretch. Obviously he didn't have a lot of weapons to throw to which I will address, but when the games on the line you must trust your quarterback to make the big throws to keep your team in it. Cam did not do that this year and that's a major problem for the Patriots offense if they wish to contend for a Super Bowl.
C/O of bostonglobe.com
Now this was a problem a season ago which resulted in the departure of Tom Brady, lack of weapons at Cam's disposal. If you're relying on Julian Edelman, N'Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and two no name tight-ends, god be with you. It's insane this team was in the playoff discussion last season with what was at Cam's disposal to throw to. Not one receiver reached 1,000 yards receiving on the year as the Patriots yards per game through the air were dead last in the league.
In order to win games, Cam needed pass catchers and route runners who could get open downfield for him to throw to. A majority of his passes came within at least a yard or two a way from the line of scrimmage, which resulted in the drive never gaining ground. There just wasn't enough "oomf" in that offense for Cam to look for in 2020, 2021 although is looking like it could turn into something nice for Cam Newton.
Over the last two days the Patriots have signed free agents such as Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor. This is huge because it shows Belichick is aware a quarterback like Cam needs to have talented players at his disposal in order to make him good. This isn't Tom Brady anymore. So although this doesn't appear as much of a con anymore, it truly is because it proves Cam needs additional offensive assets in order to be successful. Sure Tom Brady worked with no weapons and was successful, but without talents such as Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski his career could've look a whole lot different.
So although this problem is and has been addressed it proves how much of a con this is for Cam Newton. He needs someone talented to throw to, or success will be nothing but a forgotten term for the New England Patriots.
C/O of dknation.draftkings.com
Now do I like this move? It's hard to say, but for me more no than yes. Cam showed in his first season with the Patriots that he still has a spark left in him, but what do these other horrible performances mean for this? Is that spark fading away? Once again very difficult to say.
This is a guy who was signed on a one year deal and having to learn the Patriots playbook in two months. ALSO, coming to a franchise that has been so used to a pocket passer that now they themselves had to transition a playbook to fit a mobile quarterback after 20 years of Tom Brady.
So you have to cut Cam some slack a little bit, trust me, I myself would personally want to roll with someone else. Potentially trade up in the draft to get someone like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, or Zach Wilson, even getting someone like Jimmy Garoppolo who's been in the Patriots system. But once again, why change the offense again when you already changed it to fit the needs of the quarterback you have right now?
When Cam was playing great, he was exactly that. But when he played terrible, my good what a disaster it was. So Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office are doing what they can to make a run at the playoffs next season with these major free agent signings on both offense and defense. It takes two to tango as they say and with the Patriots offense ranked 27th in the league last year in terms of total offensive yardage, these signings can help provide life to this struggling team.
Only time will tell, now that Cam will have a full offseason to get in sync with his offense and be the field general we saw in Carolina. So for my final answer to the question if I like Cam Newton, I'm in the middle. I don't know what to make of him because of that mix of great and horrible playmaking. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when September hits and Superman goes under-center to ATTEMPT to lead the Patriots to a playoff berth.