Bill Belichick's Experience With 2011 Lockout May Be Why He Signed Cam Newton

Sam Minton

The New England Patriots made a big splash on Sunday. They signed quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year deal.

Newton will have a chance to prove that his career is not over. The former NFL MVP has struggled with injuries these past few seasons; he is coming off a foot injury that kept him out for the majority of the 2019 season.

When Newton is healthy he is amazing to watch. He has a great arm and can use his speed to escape from pressure in the pocket. If he needs to he can also tuck the ball and run. Unlike Tom Brady, Newton can break off long runs and goes faster than a snail's pace.

Newton's athleticism allows him to extend plays that would be dead on arrival for other QBs. Receivers can have more time to get open, or Newton can make some magic with his feet. This can lead to some highlight-reel plays that go for big gains. This is also may be the reason that New England signed him. But the thing is, the angle of thought for signing may be a bit different than you think.

The MMQB's Albert Breer had an interesting theory in his MAQB column this week. He wrote that one of the reasons that the Patriots may have signed Newton has to do with the 2011 lockout. More specifically, Bill Belichick wants to tear apart defenses that are out of shape due to the unusual offseason this year.

Someone who has worked in New England made a pretty interesting point to me about the Cam Newton signing, as it relates to Bill Belichick’s brand of logic. He told me that in 2011, Belichick told everyone that the one thing that would kill the team early on, post-lockout, was being out of shape, and giving up big plays as a result of it. This guy then said, regarding Newton, “So what better way to pressure on a tired defense than have Cam back there?”

The question is can Newton still make those big plays? That remains to be seen for the 31-year-old QB.

New England is hoping that Newton's athleticism will carry the team to success. If he is the starter, the running game is likely to get a boost and the Patriots might even run a more RPO-inspired offense. In recent years we have seen this style of offense gain traction with the increased athleticism of QBs today in the NFL.

If Newton is healthy and rejuvenated we could see a great season from him. He could take advantage of this year's defenses that haven't been able to train like they usually do.

Having a veteran like Newton helps in these interesting times. He knows what it takes to get to the Super Bowl and actually has experience as a starting NFL quarterback. But aside from that, his ability to make a defense run around and try to cover for longer than they would normally would could be why Belichick signed the former MVP quarterback in the midst of a pandemic. 

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