5 Things Patriots Fans Should Know About Cam Newton
Well, this one came from way out of left field. The New England Patriots have signed former Carolina Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton. He brings a totally different style from what fans are use to seeing in guys like Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, and Jarrett Stidham.
While it's unclear what will come about from this signing, it is certainly going to be fun to watch, as Newton is undoubtably one of the most entertaining players in the league.
In case you haven't been keeping up-to-date with Newton over the past couple years, let's go over five things you should know about the former Carolina Patriot.
Bill Belichick Once Had High Praise For Newton:
“I think when you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks — guys that are tough to handle, can throw, run, make good decisions … — I would put him at the top of the list. Not saying there aren’t a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say of all the guys we played recently in the last couple of years, I think he’s the hardest guy to (defend). He makes good decisions, can run. He’s strong. He’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things. He can beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game in 2013. I would put him at the top of the list. I’m not saying the other guys aren’t a problem, because they are. But he’s maybe public enemy No. 1.” - Bill Belichick, 2017
These words say a lot about the 2015 league MVP. While Newton has never really been the same since his MVP trophy, he still presents a problem to any defense that goes against him.
First of all, Newton is one of the most prolific rushers from the quarterback position in NFL history. In fact, Newton ranks third in NFL history in career rushing yards by a quarterback. His combo of speed and size make him a tall, elusive fullback, barrelling downhill with a full head of steam.
While it's tough to dive into other stats and paint a picture with them due to several injuries Newton has suffered, a most recent healthy stretch in 2018 proved that Newton can still be truly one of the best in the run game.
However, it's where Newton has to drop back and pass that grading systems like PFF have not been too kind. While Newton has had to fight through several injuries that certainly affected his throwing motion, his stats since his MVP campaign have not been favorable. Newton has not ranked above 23rd in the league as a passer since that 2015 season, according to PFF. They have other stats to go along with that unsatisfying news as well.
Newton's film speaks a lot more to his ability, and his ability is more than these stats would suggest. Belichick would not have such high praise for a quarterback in the same company as Josh Rosen, Mason Rudolph, and Jeff Driskel.
However, especially if injuries carry over into this season, there is cause for some skepticism.
Newton is Undefeated in Games Against the Patriots:
In two very close games, Newton has bested Tom Brady and New England in both occasions. Newton showed up both times and played some of his best games against the team he now plays for.
Newton made things frustrating for Belichick and the Patriots. Especially the defense, as he constantly showed how tough he was to tackle and bring down.
It's good to have Newton joining the team as opposed to going against them. Seeing Newton was never fun for New England's defenses. He is one headache that they will only have to put up with in practice now.
Newton Appears to be Motivated, in Shape, and is Working Out With OBJ
Newton has been recording his workouts this offseason. Among his most notable videos was one were he was featured in a home-gym late at night with loud gospel music blaring in the background. Newton goes on record as saying in the video "They gave up on me". He is almost definitely referring to the Panthers releasing him in March, only to sign Teddy Bridgewater to a new and expensive contract.
Newton appears in top physical shape, looking extremely healthy from the naked eye. In yet another video, this is just one of the couple that features Cleveland Browns' receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. The two appear to be catching passes from each other and conditioning for the season. The video references a metaphorical "darkness", where both players can probably say they are right now after tough 2019 seasons. Newton's season was only two games long and he was of course later released.
Lastly, in this sneak peak of Newton's offseason, we turn to one more video that he actually posted in response to his signing with the Patriots.
Newton Could Become Second African-American QB to Start For Patriots in Team History
With racial equality being at the forefront of social discourse in today's country, a stat floated about after this signing. Newton could join Jacoby Brissett to be the only two African-American quarterbacks to start for the Patriots in team history. Use that stat as you wish, however, it is important to note in today's climate.
Funny enough, when mentioning Brissett, it is that one game against the Houston Texans that fans should rewatch to potentially get a sense of what the new Newton offense could look like. Brissett was really the last quarterback that presented a rushing threat as a quarterback for New England, and they used his legs efficiently. The offense looked so entirely different on that night against Houston. Newton and Brissett could have more in common than you think.
Newton's Biggest Issue is Health:
As previously eluded to, Newton's health the past few seasons has been a real hinderance to his performance and his throwing motion.
In March of 2017, he received surgery on a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder for an injury he sustained in a Week 14 matchup versus the San Diego Chargers. Though it was unclear when the injury was suffered, he went into the 2017 season and played the entire season. He struggled a little bit, having a touchdown to interception ratio of 22:16.
It was in November of 2018 when he suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury to the same shoulder referenced before. That was in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The injury would noticeably hinder his throwing arm and affect even the simpler throws he would once make with ease. He would play through the injury and later get surgery in January of 2019.
After all that, in a preseason game against the Patriots last season, things really went downhill for Newton in Carolina. He sprained his left foot, more specifically, it was categorized as a Lisfranc injury.
In Week 2 of the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Newton actually re-aggravated that foot and had to miss the rest of the regular season.
However, that isn't all of his injury history. In fact, his whole injury database can be found here, which is more like a long encyclopedia at this point.
Newton's foot now adds another layer of concern to a player who already noticeably struggled to trust his back and shoulder after suffering injuries in those parts of his body. These issues tinkered with his throwing motion and were a big part of the inaccuracy stats mentioned earlier in the article.
If Newton is healthy, New England might be right in the conversation with the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs as the best team in the AFC. But if his health continues to betray him again, problems will arise for the Patriots and their offense.