Belichick has reportedly “raved” about Newton all offseason, per the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. As fond of Newton as Belichick appears to be, the legendary coach reportedly has one preeminent concern about the 2015 NFL MVP heading into 2021.
Multiple sources who have spoken with Belichick this offseason said he does nothing but rave about Newton and the effort the quarterback put forth in 2020. The only problem Belichick is concerned with is Newton’s arm strength, with Newton having suffered multiple shoulder injuries in the last five years.
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Arm Strength Concerns Mean Less Deep Balls
While this concern about Newton’s arm strength is based on a report and did not come directly from Belichick’s mouth, it doesn’t sound illogical. A lack of arm strength has been one of Newton’s game’s main criticisms, and many have blamed this issue for his struggles in 2020.
When you look at how limited the playcalling was from the Patriots–especially as it pertains to the passing game–the report seems even more legitimate.
Just because this is Belichick’s belief doesn’t make it true. Newton didn’t get many opportunities to throw it deep, but he was accurate when he did. He completed 53.8% of his deep throws (longer than 25 yards), ranked fourth in the NFL in 2020.
Perhaps this is what Newton was referring to when he talked about some of the disconnects he’d had with the coaching staff in 2020 during his interview with I Am Athlete.
“Use Me, Coach”
Newton told Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson, and Fred Taylor that sometimes he wanted to plead with the Patriots’ coaching staff, “use me, coach.”
He didn’t go into specifics, but Newton expressed what sounding like frustration with the staff limiting him in certain ways.
Perhaps Newton wanted more plays in place that allowed him to run. He did have a whopping 12 rushing touchdowns in 2020. It’s also possible; Newton wanted the training wheels removed from the deep passing game.
New England’s pass profile was almost exclusively 15-yard passes or shorter, and quite honestly, they became a relatively easy offense to defend when teams could contain the run game.
If Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels didn’t believe Newton had the arm strength to push the ball deep, that might explain the overly safe playcalling. This also speaks to the team’s lack of belief in Jarrett Stidham.
If they felt Newton was restricted in this way and knew Stidham (whose arm talent has never been a question) was available but still didn’t turn to him, it speaks volumes of how lowly regarded he is by the coaching staff.
When you consider the only quarterbacks on the Patriots’ roster currently are Stidham and practice squad member Jake Dolegala, it’s no wonder Newton would be an option to return.
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