Bill Belichick has done this before. From Corey Dillon to Randy Moss to Darrelle Revis, the New England Patriots coach has a solid track record of resurrecting NFL stars’ careers. Now that Tom Brady will be suiting up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s time for the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach to pull out one of his old tricks and take a flyer on Cam Newton.
The former No. 1 overall pick still hasn’t found a new home after Carolina unceremoniously released him less than a month ago. Newton will be 31 this season and has struggled to stay healthy. He’s also a former league MVP who carried Carolina to a Super Bowl berth five years ago. Sure, there are concerns about his health, attitude and culture fit, but if Bill Belichick has taught us anything, it’s that he’s not afraid to take chances. On the surface, a potential Belichick-Newton marriage may seem destined for divorce. But digging deeper, it’s abundantly clear that both parties would benefit from taking a leap of faith that could result in a new era of dominance in New England.
Bill Belichick has resurrected NFL stars before
As a general manager, Bill Belichick’s track record speaks for itself. The architect of the greatest dynasty in professional sports laid the foundation with mostly homegrown, high-character players like Brady, Richard Seymour, Matt Light and Troy Brown. Let’s not forget that throughout the course of New England’s 20-year dynasty, Belichick has taken gambles on NFL stars who have fallen out of favor.
Case in point: Randy Moss. The athletic phenom wore out his welcome in Oakland before Belichick stole him for a fourth-round pick. Though some questioned whether his best days were behind him, Moss swiftly silenced those cynics. He and Brady made magic in their first season together before falling short to Eli Manning and the Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Still, Belichick’s gamble on Moss proved worthwhile given the price he paid.
Cam Newton could become Belichick’s latest reclamation project. After all, he’s done it with similar talents like Moss, Revis and Dillon. More recently, he’s helped Kyle Van Noy and Trent Brown go from castoffs to well-paid Super Bowl champions. Newton’s never lacked the physical skills to succeed. Now he needs an opportunity and a smart coaching staff that can take advantage of his unique abilities. Who better to fix his flaws than the greatest coach in NFL history?
Cam Newton could excel with Patriots coaching staff
Speaking of coaches, the Patriots boast one of the brightest offensive minds in Josh McDaniels. A former head coach himself, he’s resurrected his own career by returning to the organization that he built his reputation with. McDaniels and Brady were famously close, but it’s time to turn the page on that era. Jarrett Stidham may be the current favorite to start the Week 1 opener, but you have to imagine the Patriots will bring in a more talented competitor than Brian Hoyer.
From a scheme perspective, Newton couldn’t be more different than Brady. But that’s exactly the point. He doesn’t have to be TB12. And New England’s offense doesn’t have to remain the same. Shifting to a mobile quarterback could open up a world of possibilities for the creative-minded McDaniels. On Monday, Belichick acknowledged that the Patriots’ offensive approach will have to change without Brady behind center:
Whoever the quarterback is, we’ll try to make things work smoothly and efficiently for that player and take advantage of his strengths and his skills. Each of us has different skills. Each quarterback has a different skillset, and whatever things that particular player does well, we’ll try to work towards and feature, or at least give him an opportunity to do those. And the things that either he doesn’t do well or needs more experience at or whatever the case might be, then we’ll try to minimize or until those things improve, work around them.
Cam Newton obviously has a drastically different skill set than New England is used to. But if any coach has proven to adapt his approach on a game-by-game basis, let alone holistically, it’s Bill Belichick.
Belichick and Newton can forge new legacies together
It’s a new era in Foxborough. And though Belichick is still in charge, the Patriots are entering unchartered territory in the post-Brady era. The unknown may make fans uneasy, but it also represents an opportunity for Belichick to carve out a new chapter of his NFL legacy. By bringing in Cam Newton, that would be a massive step in a new direction.
While Belichick typically eschews from me-first personalities, perhaps he and Newton could see the value in working together. After all, there isn’t anyone better at motivating his players and challenging them to defeat the doubters. The former Panthers quarterback played just two games last season, but he actually posted career-highs in completions (320) and completion percentage (67.5) in 14 games in 2018.
A healthy, humble Cam Newton possesses tantalizing tools that few NFL quarterbacks can match. Combined with Bill Belichick’s motivational tactics and the team-first mentality, this could be a fruitful marriage that results in another Super Bowl run for the Patriots. All it will take is a leap of faith. The question is: Who’s jumping first?