“He just has to be the guy that was first half of 2018 when he’s top 10 in rating, top 10 in completion percentage, he’s pushing 70 in completion percentage, that had never been Cam Newton before 2018”
By Cameron Hogwood and Richard Graves
Last Updated: 03/07/20 3:06pm
There will be a new dynamic to the New England Patriots offense when they enter the 2020 season under Cam Newton, believes NBC Sports Boston‘s Phil Perry.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels faces a new challenge as he looks to mould his unit around the 2015 MVP and his not-so Tom Brady rushing capabilities.
Accentuating the strengths of players has become a staple of this Patriots dynasty over the last 20 years, and will undoubtedly remain the case as Bill Belichick’s team begin a new era without Brady under center.
“The offense is going to change and I think it’s going to change significantly,” Perry told Sky Sports News.
“Bill Belichick told us even going into the Draft, I asked him, ‘How willing do you have to be as a staff? For 20 years you had one type of player at quarterback, that Tom Brady style player’, he said ‘unquestionably’, they were going to have to alter what they do.”
With running backs Sony Michel and James White already integral pieces to the Patriots offense, the arrival of Newton gives McDaniels a vastly-improved power run game.
Despite his injury history, the Patriots will still look to pound the ball and utilise the read option with Newton, who also adopted a conventional pocket-passer look at times with a career 320 completions in 2018.
“With Cam Newton, you understand you are not going to be that pin-point type of offense that’s going to dink and dunk and kill you with a 1000 paper cuts all the way down the field,” added Perry.
“He’s going to be a big play waiting to happen and yes he may get himself into trouble physically because he asks himself to do too much but I think the Patriots and Josh McDaniels in particular will be able to scheme around this guy.
“One of the things we hear when you speak to smart NFL people, the Tom Brady types, the type of quarterback that was really popular in the 80s, 90s, early 2000s, those guys are really going by the wayside.
“Everyone has to be more athletic now because you’re going to deal with pressure. Especially with these defensive linemen that are so big and so fast every single year.”
There are obvious questions over Newton’s ability to replicate the MVP form that led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015.
He threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and 10 interceptions that season, as well as rushing for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. For periods, he was untouchable.
Nonetheless, it won’t be lost on the Patriots though that he looked efficient as recently as 2018 when he put up a career completion percentage of 67.5 along with 24 passing touchdowns and 488 rushing yards in 14 games.
“It wasn’t all that long ago that Cam Newton was a bonafide top 10 quarterback in the NFL,” said Perry. “You don’t have to go all the way back to 2015 when he won MVP and took his team to the Super Bowl.
“Aside from Christian McCaffrey and some of the other talented running backs he had there, he hasn’t had a tonne in terms of passing game weaponry. He doesn’t necessarily have to be that guy though that he was several years ago.
“He just has to be the guy that was first half of 2018 when he’s top 10 in rating, top 10 in completion percentage, he’s pushing 70 in completion percentage, that had never been Cam Newton before 2018 but he worked with a different offensive coordinator and they focused on the shorter passing game.
“I think Cam Newton himself, who knows Tom Brady well, I think he looks to Tom Brady as a lot of quarterbacks do and thinks ‘I’m past 30, I need to be more of a pocket-passer, I understand I can run over defenders when I need to but I need to be more accurate from behind center’ and he did that in 2018.”