Pats QB Cam Newton in control of Pats offense?
By: Tayyib Abu
Cam Newton enjoyed an inconsistent debut season as the Patriots quarterback. Understandably, there was always going to be some growing pains. Newton is an entirely different quarterback to Tom Brady; add a truncated offseason program and a lack of weapons;
Newton was climbing a steep mountain. Nevertheless, the former MVP played well, even recapturing some of that MVP form at times. Conversely, some erratic performances blighted his season. Newton returns in 2021 in Foxboro.
This year, rookie quarterback Mac Jones will share the quarterback room in Massachusetts. The pressure is on Newton to master the offense and be QB1 come opening day. It’s time to break down why the former first overall pick and MVP could master the attack in 2021.
Reason One – Familiarity
Familiarity is often said to breed contempt. However, familiarity can be a quarterback’s best friend, even more so in New England. The Patriots run an adapted version of the Erhardt-Perkins offensive system. It got installed by Charlie Weis nearly 20 years ago, and the Pats have stuck with it since.
One of the more complex elements to learn about this playbook is the verbiage. It is very different from the standard NFL playbooks that the rest of the league utilizes. We saw Tom Brady struggle to adapt in the early phases in Tampa Bay, and the same can get said for Newton.
Now with an entire season’s worth of experience as well as a full offseason, Newton should be able to wrap his head around the playbook at a higher level. The first building block of success for quarterbacks is understanding every tiny detail of the offence. Newton should get that checked off this offseason.
Reason Two – New Weapons
The whole NFL world knew the severe lack of talent and depth hurt the Patriots last year. With Julian Edelman retiring this offseason, the final piece of the Brady Bunch finally departed 1 Patriot Place. Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft knew the offense required a significant overhaul. Therefore, it surprised no one that New England spent big as soon as free agency started.
Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor all made their way to New England. In addition, new England added experienced players that Newton could form relationships with immediately. The two tight ends could be an inspired decision from New England. Jonnu Smith is an excellent red-zone target, while Hunter Henry is a gritty, talented pass-catching target between the numbers.
Newton excelled in 2015 when he had Greg Olsen at his best; he could recapture some of that magic with these two players. Finally, the Patriots understand the potency of two-tight end sets and 21 personnel. With a big, physical runner at quarterback, it could unleash Newton’s ability as a runner.
Reason Three – Full Health
Cam Newton has not played an entire 16 game season since 2017. A myriad of different injuries and concussions have plagued him since his MVP campaign. Fortunately, Newton looked in good physical shape last year, and in the early phases of minicamp, no injury concerns have appeared.
Newton is a player that must play at full throttle to be at his best. Sadly, he hasn’t been at 100% so much of his career, and it’s affected his confidence and on-field play. If Newton can enter training camp healthy, he can start the season in the best condition since 2015.
Reason Four – The Running Game
The Patriots are committed to running the ball. The ground game is something that Bill Belichick wishes to establish. With their bevy of complementary backs, the Patriots will lean on the run a lot in 2021. Their offensive line ranked 10th in ESPN’s run block success rate metric, and they should be strong again. With an established running game, the playbook should open up for Newton.
His play-action game is still strong; New England could even use play-action, bootlegs or designed rollouts for Newton out of heavy personnel. Newton can thrive when throwing into good windows; a successful running game could do that for him. Finally, a running game can add Newton’s threat of running to the backfield, especially in the red zone.