Who Will Succeed the GOAT in New England?

by Aaron Bektas

Why Cam Newton is the best option at quarterback for the Patriots

Patriots Wife

Is the Patriots’ dynasty over? That was the question that plagued countless NFL fans when Tom Brady announced he would be signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While Brady did struggle last season, posting his lowest QBR since 2006, many believed it to be a function of the Patriots’ wide receiving core and offensive line. To replace Brady and continue the winning tradition, New England is going to need a dynamic playmaker. They need someone mobile enough to escape the pocket, giving the Patriots’ subpar receivers enough time to get open downfield. The perfect man for this job is former Panthers quarterback: Cam Newton.

The Patriots defense, with Bill Belichick at the helm, posted a league-best 272 yards allowed per game on average, but the offense hindered the team’s ability to compete with the NFL’s top tier teams. With the Patriots’ defense for the most part still intact, they should again be productive this season. This stability gives the Patriots a chance to contend if their offense can compete with middle-of-the-pack teams. In comparison to candidates like Jarret Stidham and Jacoby Brisset, Newton has proven to be the most productive.

Two other names that have come up for the Patriots quarterback spot are former Buccaneers’ quarterback Jameis Winston and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Waston may indeed be a better fit than Newton due to his younger age and his coach in Houston, Bill O’Brien, who has similar schemes to the Patriots. However, unlike Newton who was recently released by the Panthers, Watson is not a free agent and would require substantial trade assets to acquire for the upcoming season. Winston, however, is a free agent, but would not be the best fit in New England. Because the Patriots defense is top-notch, the offense at the very least needs to take care of the ball, allowing the defense to keep the Patriots in the game. Last season, Winston threw a league-leading 30 interceptions. Winston’s carelessness with the ball would merely put more strain on the Patriots’ defense, hurting the team’s chances of winning. This leaves Newton as the best option.

A first overall pick in 2011, Newton led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2016 and earned an MVP award along the way. Throughout his nine seasons in the NFL, Newton has thrown for over 3,000 yards in each full year of his career while also rushing for an average of five to six hundred yards. Meanwhile, Stidham has yet to start a regular-season game, and Brisset has found only one season of success in Indianapolis.

Newton has proven his ability to sit back in the pocket as well as escape pressure and make throws on the run. This aspect of his game will fit well with the Patriots offense. The Patriots’ offensive line struggled last year, and Tom Brady, being a 42-year-old immobile quarterback, hindered offensive production for the Patriots.

A major downside for Newton is his injury history. Newton often uses his 6’5’’, 245-pound frame to run over defenders. From 2011-2017, Newton took 922 hits leading to many injuries. The next closest quarterback was Russell Wilson, another mobile quarterback, with 615. These statistics show that many of his hits were avoidable. Last season, Newton played only two games before suffering a shoulder surgery, his second since 2016. Also, Newton is 30 years old, which is not young in the NFL, and his injury history may cause him to reach the backside of his career sooner than expected.

Newton also has a questionable winning mentality. A prime example of this was in the 2016 Super Bowl against the Denver Broncos. In a crucial drive late in the game, Newton fumbled the ball and chose not to dive on it, allowing Denver Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware to grab the ball, sealing the victory for the Broncos. Such actions would not be tolerated by a coach like Bill Belichick. In his post-game press conferences, Newton didn’t even take the blame for his actions but instead tried to shift the blame off of himself. This behavior is not what you want out of your quarterback.

If Newton were to come to New England, Belichick could change his mentality. The Hall of Fame Coach has done it on multiple occasions with players such as Jaimie Collins and Randy Moss. Similarly to those players, Newton has much potential. If he can return to his old form and stay healthy, Newton could be a top three quarterback in the NFL. When combined with the Patriot’s dominant defense, Newton is more than capable of continuing the winning tradition in New England.