Stephen A. Smith: ‘He’ll Never Look Good in a Patriots Uniform’

Getty Stephen A. Smith

The New England Patriots are sticking with Cam Newton as their starting quarterback on Monday night against the Buffalo Bills, and there is growing anticipation they will bring him back next season as well. At least one ESPN analyst doesn’t think that is a good idea.

In a predictably candid segment of ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith slammed the idea of Newton having a future with the Patriots. In fact, he said, Newton “will never look good in a New England Patriots uniform.”

Take a look at the segment:

Should Cam Newton want to return to the Patriots? | First TakeMax Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith debate whether Cam Newton should want to return to the New England Patriots following a disappointing season. #FirstTake #NFL ✔️ Subscribe to ESPN+plus.espn.com/ ✔️ Get the ESPN App: espn.com/espn/apps/espn ✔️ Subscribe to ESPN on YouTube: es.pn/SUBSCRIBEtoYOUTUBE ✔️ Subscribe to NBA on ESPN on YouTube: bit.ly/SUBSCRIBEtoNBAonESPN ✔️ Watch ESPN on…2020-12-21T15:50:59Z

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Stephen A. Smith’s Point

During Smith’s rant, he points out Newton’s sub-par passing numbers in 2020, and what would appear to some to be a mismatch in an organization’s offensive philosophy and the 2015 NFL MVP’s skill set.

Smith insists the Patriots want to throw the ball downfield, and the legendary sports personality doesn’t believe this is something Newton is still capable of doing effectively. In fact, Smith says, “he does not look like a good thrower of the football.”

He somewhat emphatically punctuated his main point with the statement, “It’s not a match made. The New England Patriots don’t have the weapons to help Cam Newton. He’ll never look good in a New England Patriots uniform.”


Max Kellerman’s Point

Smith’s stance was actually positioned as a rebuttal to Kellerman initially delivering his point. Kellerman believes Newton should want to stay with New England. According to Kellerman,  Newton has rebuilt what some saw as a flawed reputation.

Kellerman points out that Newton has shown great leadership and that he has appreciated the consistency of the Patriots’ organization, as most see it as a major change from what the 31-year-old experienced with the Carolina Panthers

While briefly pondering alternative teams for Newton to consider, Kellerman asks where does Newton look and say, “this is a better situation?”


Who’s Right?

Without a question, Kellerman is right and Smith is wrong in this argument. Several aspects of Smith’s argument are based on fallacies.

Smith suggests the Patriots want to win by throwing the football a ton, which is false. The Patriots have always made a point to shape their gameplans according to the personnel on their roster–no matter the skill set.

When Tom Brady first arrived and took over as the team’s starting quarterback, they were primarily a running team. They morphed into a more pass-driven offense as the personnel and Brady’s development dictated. To suggest Belichick and the Patriots can only win one way is asinine.

Also, Smith says drafting wide receivers isn’t Belichick’s strong suit and suggests that issue is a reason Newton isn’t a fit there. Well, if we’re going to settle into that deficiency and accept it as absolute truth, no quarterback should ever want to play for the Patriots. What quarterback on Earth would want to play for an organization that is doomed to never draft a quality player at wide receiver?

Belichick has indeed struggled to find strong wide receivers in the draft. However, that shouldn’t be seen as an eternal and unchangeable flaw.

Lastly, Smith implies that Newton doesn’t have the ability to succeed as a drop-back passer. I partially agree. Newton isn’t a traditional quarterback in that sense, but you could make the argument he never has been. I honestly question how many full games of the Patriots Smith has had the opportunity to watch this season. I’d venture to guess his exposure might have been reduced to highlights and the nationally televised games the Patriots have played this season. It might be the first take, but it is an incomplete one.

There are no guarantees, but the Patriots might just believe with an entire training camp to digest the offense, and a season that isn’t shipwrecked by COVID, Newton might look great in a Patriots uniform in 2021.

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