The pairing of Cam Newton and Bill Belichick offers tantalizing upside. After all, the athletically gifted quarterback joining forces with the greatest coach in NFL history could result in yet another Super Bowl run for the New England Patriots. But hoisting the Lombardi Trophy takes a ton of work before and during the season. And when it comes to devoting your life to football, few (if any) can compete with Belichick.
So whenever a Patriots player earns public compliments from the 68-year-old head coach, it should raise a few eyebrows. And recently, Belichick delivered some uncharacteristic praise for the man tasked with replacing Tom Brady. And in doing so, he also revealed why Newton earns his respect.
Cam Newton seeks career resurrection under Bill Belichick
Cam Newton once ranked as one of the NFL’s biggest stars. But after a string of bad injury luck, the former No. 1 pick went from the face of the Carolina Panthers to spending months on the free-agent market. Bill Belichick swooped up the former NFL MVP on a one-year, incentive-heavy contract.
Initially, some questioned the pairing of the two NFL stars. After all, the charismatic Newton seems like the polar opposite of the staunch Belichick. However, the two have spoken highly of each other since the signing. And in training camp, Newton overcame a slow start and now looks to be the favorite to open the season as New England’s starting quarterback.
The 31-year-old does have to prove he can stay healthy after suffering shoulder and foot injuries in recent years. However, the highly-competitive former Heisman Trophy winner should excel playing for a coach who has dedicated his life to the game of football. Belichick’s no-nonsense approach and unwavering commitment to finding every competitive edge certainly can’t hurt Newton’s chances of resurrecting his career.
Belichick reveals why Cam Newton earns his respect
As he begins his journey with the Patriots, Cam Newton still has room to improve as a passer. He has a career completion percentage of just 59.6% and has thrown 108 interceptions in 125 starts. For comparison sake, Brady owns a 63.8% career completion percentage and has thrown just 179 interceptions in 283 starts.
Plus, Newton must adjust to a new offense, new coaching staff, and new teammates. Bill Belichick has already spoken about Newton’s acclimation process recently. However, he took things to the next level with some uncharacteristic praise while also revealing why he respects his new quarterback in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
“Nobody works harder than Cam,” Belichick said. “Some players like to work on things that they’re good at, but Cam’s the type of player that works on things that he’s not as good at and really tries to improve on a daily basis, and that’s something I really respect about him.”
Belichick remarked that many players opt to work on things they’re already good at rather than taking the time to address their weaknesses. However, Newton has fully embraced the challenge while showcasing his competitive nature. Plus, the dynamic personality that some viewed as a potential problem in Foxborough has proven the exact opposite.
“He’s very social and has a great presence, whether it’s in a small room of a couple people or in a bigger group,” Belichick said. “Everybody’s competitive, but I think there are different degrees of it, and it looks like, based on what I’ve seen, I would put him in the top echelon of that.”
Can the Patriots make a Super Bowl run with their new quarterback?
Cam Newton may have earned Bill Belichick’s respect for his work in the offseason, but what really matters is what he can do on the field. Ultimately, winning matters most to Belichick, and Newton provides him with the best chance of making another Super Bowl run.
Though the Patriots do not boast a great group of skill players, the addition of Newton could alleviate that. His ability as a runner opens up a new world of possibilities for Josh McDaniels. The Patriots’ offensive coordinator tried to build around a dual-threat quarterback in Denver, but Newton possesses far more tools to work with than Tim Tebow.
New England could very well move forward with a ground-and-pound attack. The Patriots feature a strong offensive line anchored by Joe Thuney. It would make sense to utilize Newton’s running ability and maximize a deep backfield that includes Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, and potential breakout star Damien Harris.
If the Patriots can find a healthy balance on offense, that will put them right in the mix to win the AFC. Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson represent the future, but Bill Belichick and Cam Newton bring a wealth of combined experience to the table. Let’s see if the two can make magic together in 2020 and bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Foxborough. And if that happens, we may just see Newton back in New England in 2021, too.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.