Cam Newton: Will he last in the "Patriot Way"?
Speculation is everything right now in the world of sports as Major League Baseball will begin this Thursday. It seems that with Coronavirus swirling around the United States that one league does not seem to have a safety plan in place. The National Football League has come under criticism from its most valuable employees. The players themselves, concerned with Madden Ratings and a safety plan worry just as much as the current fanbase whether their will even be an NFL Season. With so much to look at from all angles of the field this year. New players and new teams. The excitement that should be surrounding one team though is not as usual as it has been in the past though. New England with its quarterback situation is not the talk of the NFL anymore. With longtime quarterback Tom Brady leaving for prettier beaches in Tampa Bay it seems that the Patriots were looking for someone to provide Jared Stidham some breathing room before playing in his first NFL season as a starter. Newton signed with the Patriots earlier this month and the expectation has never been higher in his career. The ultimate question though is will he last under a regime that has won 6 Super Bowls in 20 years faster than any other franchise in NFL history.
Cam Newton: Carolina’s Savior
In 2011, the Carolina Panthers picked Cameron Newton #1 overall out of Auburn. Cam Newton was a multi-talented quarterback from Atlanta, Georgia who exhibited a cannon for an arm but could also move like a running back. Newton is much larger than a typical NFL quarterback weighing 250 Ibs. and standing at 6’ 5” he presents a much harder tackle than a typical quarterback. He is described best by his throwing skills like that of a Peyton Manning and running skills of Michael Vick. Early on he was written off for having multiple skills as a quarterback and throwing was not his more dominant movement.
With the Panthers Cam Newton brought pizzazz to the Panthers who had been struggling for several years since the loss of their longtime leader Jake Delhomme. Delhomme left Carolina in 2009 and was nearing the end of his career shortly after spending much of his career there. He was replaced in 2010 by Jimmy Clausen a rookie that year. The Panthers went 2-14 that year and it seemed that with Newton at the helm their would soon be a change of fate. Along with Newton, coach John Fox who had led Carolina to a Super Bowl years earlier was asked to leave and replaced by Ron Rivera nicknamed “Riverboat Ron” for his gambling tactics. Furthermore, on the defense, Linebacker Luke Kuechly was drafted to forge a new Panthers defense. The first years were not successful as the Panthers failed to reach the playoffs in their first two seasons but in 2013 their seemed to be a potential turn around as the Panthers were set for glory making the playoffs with a 12-4 record. The following year was more of the same, the Panthers won their division but did not capitalize on going all the way to the Super Bowl. 2015 was a promising year though as Carolina was the preseason favorite to win the NFC South. They did not disappoint either winning 15 games and losing one the entire season. Their one loss was to the Atlanta Falcons who finished 8-8 and were not even close to competing for the division. That season the Panthers made it to the Super Bowl playing against John Fox and the Denver Broncos. The Broncos also boasted Peyton Manning, the aging star who was looking to win one more before retiring. The Broncos Defense destroyed Newton who threw for a season low 43% completion rate (18/41) and 265 yards with an interception. This destroyed the Panthers and their leader fell into a deep despair in the post-game interview session providing what came to the media as the real essence of Cam Newton’s character. Peyton Manning may have won that Super Bowl but did not play like a winner completing 13 of 23 for 141 yards and no touchdowns. The league MVP showed his bad side though and this became the montra for the remainder of his time in Carolina.
Cam Newton: Leadership coming into question
With 2016 being the best season in Panthers history and with the NFL riding the Cam Newton bandwagon all offseason the Panthers were destined to return to the Super Bowl. It seemed reminiscent of a great sports tragedy into a triumph. However Carolina became more of an accident waiting to happen rather than the team that had just risen to a Super Bowl a season earlier. Newton was hit a lot more than usual as his protection in the pocket decreased and the offensive explosion that he was used to did not seem to be as grand as it had been years prior.
Newton also became an off-the field problem as well after an incident with a reporter where Newton made some comments that bordered on anti-feminism. The general public felt that Newton was being unfairly treated by these accusations an that he made the comment not thinking. Nevertheless he was criticized for these comments and thus began the fall. Newton lost a sponsor in Dannon a day after the comments. He apologized for his remark but the damage had been done. He eventually made a further comment on the the grounds that he did not know what to do after a loss in which he stated that his team “ start a suggestion box because he sure did not know what to do.” Comments like these plagued his years in Carolina there after as he failed to make the playoffs ever again as a Panther. To make a mistake move further Newton had signed a contact with the team worth $100 million dollars. The Panthers were considering him the future of the franchise after they had just won 15 games a year ago saw that they had made a mistake in resigning him. In 2020, the Panthers parted ways with Newton after 8 seasons. The Panthers also lost Kuechly to retirement and Ron Rivera was fired. The Panthers were in complete ruin entering the 2020 season.
Cam Newton: “The Patriot Way”
Now in 2020. Cam has signed with a new franchise but this one is well known for doing things a certain way. Under Bill Belichick the New England Patriots have been the most successful franchise in recent football history reaching nine Super Bowls and winning six of them. Bill Belichick is known for being an observant defensive coach as he worked under Bill Parcells with the New York Giants and also won a Super Bowl their as well. Belichick’s handling of Tom Brady is one of the greatest coach and quarterback duos ever devised. However, throw Newton into this and the opinion might stray another way.
Newton is known for his antics and often criticisms of other players which is his biggest flaw as a leader some might say. He seems to want all the blame when his team is winning and none of it when they are losing. It seems that Newton is on a vengeance tour more so than a quest for the Patriots to win a seventh title. Bill Belichick though has a certain way of dealing with a quarterback and this may or may not fit the Newton methodology quite like we expect. In all honesty, the Patriots still has one of the best rosters in the game. Newton will not be short of weapons with Julian Edelman, Mohammad Sanu and N’Keal Harry on his side of the ball.
Furthering Newton’s case is his experience level. Compared to his backup, Auburn standout Jared Stidham, Newton has 8 seasons under his belt and Stidham is in his sophomore year. Assuming Stidham was going to be learning behind Brady briefly before taking the reins it seems that Newton may be a better quarterback in some respects to learn from. Stidham is no stretch as a quarterback either just because he is a backup and with little experience. Some say that Newton was hired by New England to provide “breathing room” for the Patriots before they head to Stidham as their future but others say that Newton is in the long-term plan for New England.
Either way the Patriots have only signed Cam Newton for 1-year making it difficult for him to explore the “Patriot way” in one season. Yet, Newton may get back some of what he needs in his new coach. Confidence, success under fire, and most importantly a lesson in leadership which Newton needs. It seems as though Newton is more angry at the Panthers for letting him go than for playing football in New England. What he needs to do though is prove himself. After all, Newton is not getting any younger, he turned 31 not too long ago and the clock is ticking on his career. it seems that the Patriots are his last chance to retain the glory that he so desperately wants.
Cam Newton: The Prediction
Long story short, no I think the Patriots will not stick with Newton long-term. However not for the issues he presents but for the positives that he presents. Yes, Newton will be a great option in a read-option offense as he still can rely on his legs to get some work done. Though Newton is not the quarterback he once was through the air either. Newton’s evaluation with the Patriots will come as a last chance of sorts for him. If he does well the Patriots may stick with him and if not the opposite will happen. Newton’s talents are something to be reckoned with and Patriots now this. Why else would they have signed him. The Patriots are still in a position to prove that they are the owners of the NFL and Newton is going to assist in this. Yet, the Patriots winning a Super Bowl with Newton seems highly unlikely. In addition, Newton will need to adjust to the Massachusetts winter in order to be a success in New England. This will deter him yet another chance to win a Super Bowl. However, the situation that he is coming into is a lot easier than the one he left as the Panthers are replacing Newton and his talents with Teddy Bridgewater.
Newton will need to buy into the Patriot system which had been set up with Brady and Belichick prior to his arrival. Belichick turned an unathletic but hard-working Tom Brady into a 6-time Super Bowl Champion but Cam Newton must do his best to not get in his own way like in Carolina. Newton must play the game with help and not just by himself. In criticizing Cam Newton, understand that it is nothing but respect that I have for him as he has proven that he is one of the top 32 quarterbacks in the league however, on his new team there are new rules and these rule must be followed in order for him to remain in the long-term.