Back on June 19th, my rant was titled, A Tale of Three Quarterbacks; I opined on what might happen with Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Josh Rosen. You can read it here. I argued then that Cam Newton would be a logical fit with the Steelers; yesterday, reports appeared saying that Cam Newton had signed a 1-year deal with the Patriots that is laden with incentives and if they are all achieved, the contract would be worth $7.5M.
The reports regarding those terms cleared up one of the questions I had in mind when thinking about where Cam Newton might go; I wondered if he would “settle” for backup QB money; obviously, he was willing to do that. Another major question in my mind was the degree to which Newton had recovered from two surgeries in the past two years. Since he only played in 2 games in 2019, he has had ample “recovery time”, but there is always the uncertainty as to how much he will resemble the “pre-injured” Cam Newton when he hits the field again. The engagement of this contract action with the Patriots would seem to indicate that the Pats and their medical people are satisfied that Newton is hearty enough to do what they want him to do.
And that is the interesting question on the table now:
- Cam Newton and Tom Brady are about as different as two successful NFL QBs can be. The Pats’ offense for next to forever has been designed around Tom Brady who is an immobile, accurate short-range passer. Cam Newton is mobile, agile, not nearly as accurate on short routes and a QB who likes to push the ball downfield more than once or twice a game.
- So … Are the Pats going to try to get Cam Newton to reinvent himself in the image of Tom Brady or are the Pats going to revamp their offensive approach?
[Aside: Cam Newton had better come to realize quickly that he does not have a lot of speed burners at the WR position currently in New England and that he may need to stifle that part of his approach to the game.]
Obviously, I do not know which course of action Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniel will take with Newton – – and I am assuming here that Newton will indeed beat out Jarrett Stidham for the starting assignment. Having said that, I do believe that those two men have already decided how they will use Cam Newton this year. I do not believe for a moment that they signed Cam Newton without having a plan in mind that they will seek to implement.
One thing that is clear to me is that there will be a new avenue of offensive attack available to the Pats this year. That would be the run-pass-option play. I said above that Tom Brady is an immobile QB; picture in your mind the mobility of an Easter Island statue; Tom Brady is probably a step-and-a-half faster than that. Cam Newton can run, seemingly likes to run and is quite effective running the football. At the very least, the Patriots will have a dozen run-pass-option plays that might be inserted into a game plan for 2020 that simply were not there in 2019.
The addition of Cam Newton to the Pats’ roster seems to me to be a low-risk step by the Pats because it is a 1-year deal at backup money. It is highly unlikely that Cam Newton will perform at the level he did in 2015 when he was the NFL MVP and took the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Nonetheless, if his injuries are healed and he stay healthy, Newton is more than merely a capable QB; he is better than a lot of the QBs other teams will have under center in 2020.
At the same time, I am surprised by one aspect of this deal. I would have thought that there would be some sort of team option included here just in case Newton does flash the sort of brilliance he did 5-7 years ago. In that circumstance, it is logical that the Pats would want to have some sort of “hook” in Newton for one more season. I doubt we will ever know how or why such an option never made it to the final deal.
Here is another unknown.
- Does this acquisition mean that Belichick and his staff believe they have another shot at a Super Bowl this season? If they do not, why not go with the much younger Jarrett Stidham to find out what he has to offer down the road for the team?
- Or – maybe – does this indicate that Belichick and Company have already decided on that question?
The New England Patriots – and the AFC East as a division – have not been particularly interesting for the last decade or so. We pretty much knew who would win the division and make the playoffs as soon as they kicked off in the season-opening game. The reason for the lack of interest was the dominance of the Patriots. As with many other aspects of life, 2020 is going to be a “different year”.
- Are the Patriots – with the addition of Cam Newton – still the “Beasts of the East”?
For the record, even if the Pats do win the East and make the playoffs in January – assuming there are indeed playoffs in January – I do not think that the signing of Cam Newton puts the Pats at a level where they are equal to the Chiefs or the Ravens in the AFC.
Switching gears form a discussion of a former NFL MVP and Super Bowl QB to an undrafted free agent in this year’s draft, that undrafted free agent has demonstrated the value of an adage:
- You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Jermiah Braswell signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals after the NFL Draft. He has not yet reported to any of the team activities – – because there have not been any. However, his coaches know one thing about him now.
- He was arrested and charged with “operating a vehicle while intoxicated” after he drove said vehicle into Lake Erie.
Finally, here is an observation by Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
“A U.S. Olympic boxer was cleared when it was determined her banned substance happened because of sex. Her name: Virginia Fuchs.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………