There is a lot of talk about what Cam Newton wasn’t for the New England Patriots in 2020, but perhaps there is a shortage of discussion around how the team failed to provide adequate support for the 2015 NFL MVP.
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi’s makes a pretty strong case for the Patriots bringing Newton back and giving him a better environment and tools.
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Newton’s Struggles Were Real
Let’s not get things twisted; Newton didn’t have his best year. He struggled with accuracy at times, and poor mechanics were the most significant issue. While TDs and interceptions are two metrics used to judge a quarterback’s performance, they aren’t the end-all-be-all. However, when you have more picks than TD passes, that’s never a good thing.
Newton threw just 8 TD passes compared to 12 picks. Newton’s worst moment of the season came in the team’s Week 8 loss to the Buffalo Bills. He fumbled after a nice scramble that would have–at the very least–set the Bills up for a game-tying field goal attempt.
It wasn’t to be, and the loss dropped the Patriots to a 2-5 record. Quite honestly, the team played a little better down the stretch, winning five of their last nine games, but that loss to the Bills made the Patriots’ potential road to the playoffs all but impossible.
While Newton and the Patriots would win their next two games in prime time, the team’s fans never seemed to embrace him again after the Buffalo loss. The cries for Bill Belichick to start Jarrett Stidham seemingly got louder, but it didn’t appear Newton lost the locker room.
His teammates continued to back him, and much of that has to do with his positive attitude and the hard work he put in all season. That approach garnered respect from his teammates and coaches, and it’s another reason he might get the call to return to New England.
Giardi Makes Good Points
There is a reason Tom Brady wanted to leave New England.
Yes, he may have wanted to prove that he could win a Super Bowl without Belichick, but quite honestly, he knew the team didn’t have the weapons on offense to make much noise. Even he’d struggled to make things happen with a similar cast of skill-position players.
Brady’s comfort level with the offense and chemistry with receivers and offensive coordinator helped to produce better results–not to mention the entire system was built around him. As Giardi said in the video, Newton was brought into this system and pushed like a square peg into a round hole. New England didn’t call plays to his strengths as there were very few downfield throws, which is what Newton is best at from a throwing standpoint, and those looks help open up more opportunities for him to run.
When you consider he barely had time to learn the offense before the season, he caught COVID in Week 3, and the team had almost no weapons on offense; it’s a wonder the Patriots won seven games with him.
Are there better options available than Newton? Sure, but bringing him back isn’t the worst strategy if he’s going to be better supported in 2021.