It’s important to criticize the players on the Patriots roster; It is what makes the analysis fair and constructive. However, it becomes fruitless when it reaches the point of taking sides and desiring one’s downfall. Fans should be ecstatic about Mac Jones and his future, but getting excited about Cam Newton’s hand injury, constantly hoping he fails is aimless and unproductive.
A Better Supporting Cast
Bill Belichick on Cam Newton’s offseason progress: “Cam’s way ahead of where he was last year at this time…There’s no question about that. As you would expect, he has a good year of experience under his belt and he’s able to start the process at the beginning and not be in a catch-up mode like he was last year.”
As much as the offense struggled with Cam Newton under center, the talent was poor and lacked significant depth. There’s a reason why Bill Belichick made Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith two of the five highest paid Tight Ends in the NFL. There’s a reason why Bill Belichick overpaid for the league’s leader in YPC in 2020.
There was no talent, depth, or versatility in the 2020 passing attack. Opposing defenses lined up in their run defense; the offense was painfully predictable. While Newton did not produce enough in the passing game and even cost New England some wins, he deserves a real chance to be QB1 for the Patriots.
The Best QB Wins
Again, Patriots fans should want Mac Jones to start because he wins the job. But if Jones is not ready and or if Cam Newton earns the spot, fans should root for that. Let the football be the guide. A veteran can win the starting job AND the rookie Quarterback can be good and have a bright future ahead of him. It does not have to be one or the other.
Cam Newton is a difficult player to evaluate in OTAs. Newton’s talents are much more suited for live game situations. His ability to make plays with his feet and his deep passing is not going to be on display everyday in June. While many Patriots fans believe Newton’s arm is shot, the “Cam Newton can’t throw deep” narrative is lazy. According to PFF, Newton ranked third in adjusted completion percentage on deep passes. Newton’s receivers in 2020 also generated bottom of the league seperation.
Although Newton had small numbers throwing deep, he hit his deep shots more accurately than most Quarterbacks. Just watch the Seattle, Houston, and New York tape.
A Revamped Security Blanket
One area of Newton’s game that is strong is his connection to Tight Ends. Tight End Greg Olsen led the team in yards, receptions, and targets five out of eight seasons with Newton as the starter. The 2020 Patriots were dead last in the league in Tight End yards, receptions, touchdowns, and targets. Regardless of who is under center for 2021, that number will change significantly.
What’s Best For The Team
Cam Newton on the Patriots drafting Mac Jones: “It didn’t make me feel any type of way because he was the right pick, in my opinion…He was the best player available and that’s what the NFL Draft is for.”
It is fair to criticize Newton’s inconsistent short accuracy and the amount of time he holds onto the football. Those are areas of the game that the Patriots do not typically value. Mac Jones on the other hand, is exceptionally accurate and excels in quick decision making. But both Quarterbacks have had good days and bad days in the Patriots offseason program. And they will continue to throughout the offseason, it is part of the learning process.
At the end of the day, root for the Patriots, support the QB1, and hope that the best man wins the starting job. That decision is what is best for the team, not for personal interests or fan favorites.