The Patriots Signed Cam Newton, but Chiefs Fans Shouldn't Worry
It was supposed to be Jarrett Stidham. Now it’s Cam Newton.
But does it matter?
With the New England Patriots' signing of Cam Newton last weekend, many see the Patriots as a true AFC contender again. Should the Kansas City Chiefs be afraid of the new Patriots quarterback? Maybe if 2015 Cam Newton returns, but anything short of that should not scare the Chiefs in 2020.
Why no fear for the former MVP? Well, since Cam’s aforementioned 2015 campaign, he just hasn't been that great.
By his incredibly high standards, Tom Brady had a pretty poor 2019 season. His 6.24 ANY/A (adjusted net yards per passing attempt) was his worst since 2013. Still, the Patriots' offensive struggles should not only rest on Brady’s shoulders, as he only had a few reliable options in 33-year-old receiver Julian Edelman and running back James White.
And still, that 6.24 ANY/A posted by Brady was better than any of Newton’s seasons from 2016-2018. Newton always ranked in the bottom half of the league in ANY/A, and usually by a fair bit, ranking as low as 26th in ANY/A in 2017 among quarterbacks who attempted over 150 passes.
Even in Newton’s MVP year, he only recorded a 7.20 ANY/A. For comparison, in 2019, Jimmy Garoppolo had a 7.22 ANY/A, Derek Carr had a 7.25 ANY/A, and Patrick Mahomes had an 8.38 ANY/A. Newton has really never been a great passer, Newton has really never been a great passer. However, Newton's underwhelming production may not even be the Patriots' biggest concern for their new QB.
At the end of the 2019 season, it was Newton's shoulder injury that made the most headlines, but he was also sidelined by a Lisfranc injury in his left foot. Lisfranc injuries are serious, and can even derail players' careers. Coupled with his shoulder issues, it's fair to question if Newton will be fully recovered back to his pre-injury form.
These injuries can affect Newton's biggest strength as a player, rushing the football. As quarterbacks grow older, they usually rush less on average. We've seen this with players like Russell Wilson, Aaron Rodgers, and even Steve Young. Cam is not a young gun anymore at 31 years old. His age and his foot injury provide a reason to wonder how effective Cam will be on the ground.
Even if we ignore Newton himself and look at the Patriots as a whole, there are many reasons to think the Patriots will be a step behind the Chiefs in the AFC, and probably a step behind the Ravens too.
For one, the Patriots' offensive cast still remains lackluster. Unless second-year receiver N’Keal Harry makes a huge leap in 2020, the Patriots will be trotting out a very similar cast in 2020 as they did in 2019, and that just won’t keep up with teams like the Chiefs and Ravens.
Beyond their talent, the Patriots idn’t exactly have a hard schedule in 2019 either. By DVOA, the Patriots actually had the easiest schedule in 2019. Due to the AFC East playing the NFC West in 2020, the Patriots are going from the easiest schedule in the league to the hardest (by pre-season strength of schedule rankings). While pre-season strength of schedule rankings are not perfect, that drastic swing is still something that is hard to ignore.
Another factor that could derail Newton and the Patriots this year is the ever-present, fun-sucking virus, COVID-19. Josh McDaniels has a pretty robust offense, and the fact that COVID-19 will, at the least, be disruptive this year might make it difficult for the McDaniels-Newton pair to truly be scary.
There is a world where Newton comes back from his major injuries, proves the world wrong, and leads the Patriots to a great year and competes with the Chiefs. Are we living in this world? It feels unlikely. There are too many things working against the relationship between Cam Newton and the Patriots to see it as a threat to the Chiefs at this moment, and Chiefs fans should not fret one bit.