Cam Newton didn’t really make a big deal on his badass Patriots debut on the Dolphins. But just looking healthy and running effectively was huge in his first game, replacing Tom Brady as New England’s starting quarterback.
Most importantly, Newton showed no evidence that his recent shoulder or foot injuries were problems. As expected, he also gave the Patriots an element that Brady had never done – he acted like an extra rewind with 75 yards and 2 TDs in 15 tries.
These transfers, including a late knee down, matched his number of pass completions (15 out of 19 attempts). He only had to throw 155 meters in a 21:11 win.
Newton had some of his flashy “Superman” moments to celebrate, but he wasn’t trying to do too much. He stayed on the Patriots offensive, not forcing the ball into play, and relied on his best offensive skills and blocking support. With the Patriots’ defense dominating the dolphins three times and taking the ball away from them, Newton becomes the ultimate caretaker with his chain-moving run and short pass.
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Consider the Patriots’ biggest offensive win as Newton’s 25-yard pass against Ryan Izzo. Newton’s longest run was only 12 meters.
New England held the ball for almost 35 minutes and Newton completed 78.9 percent of his passes with a mighty 100.7 rating. The Dolphins got him for two sacks, but the Patriots consistently got positive games to keep them on schedule, going to 6 of 11 on conversion attempts with the third and fourth descent.
Since this is the Patriots, Newton’s performance will be exaggerated as an example of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniel’s being absolute geniuses to sign him late and think he could fit well on the offensive.
But let’s also remember that this was the Dolphins, a rebuilt defense whose strength is secondary to high-priced cornerbacks Xavien Howard and Byron Jones. Miami have a weak front, which makes it unsurprising that New England could race 150 yards as a team led by Newton.
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Newton has to be ready to do a lot more in Week 2 as the Patriots take on Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, who lost 38 points to the Falcons in Week 1. Seattle is a well known NFC opponent for Newton and much more a better all round team than Miami.
Unfortunately for Newton, the Patriots showed their offensive weaknesses around him. After Brady’s two previous favorite targets, Julian Edelman and James White, they don’t have much reliability in the passing game. They are still looking for consistent answers from their traditional running game.
The Patriots had the perfect game plan for Newton to get his feet wet, mostly leaning on those feet. If Newton faces more defensive resistance and is more offensively charged, that will be a real measure of what he can bring to the Patriots for all of 2020.
So far, so good for now for the most enigmatic quarterback of the season. Some important questions were answered immediately, but there is still much of the Newtonian riddle to be solved.