After months of waiting Cam Newton finally has a job. On Sunday night, Adam Schefter reported that the quarterback will be heading to New England and joining the Patriots organization. After two decades of working with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick will finally get a chance to work with a different type of quarterback.
It doesn’t take a masterful football mind, however, to notice that Cam Newton and Tom Brady are different players with different skill sets. If we take a look at Bill Belichick’s old scouting plans, though, we can gain a better understanding of what the coach expects from his quarterback.
Bill Belichick is bringing Cam Newton to the New England Patriots
For the past 20 years, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady have been a packaged deal. During this offseason, though, everything changed.
Earlier this year, Brady announced that he was hitting free agency. Whether he was sick of Belichick’s rigid ways or simply wanted a new challenge, the end result was the same: the veteran joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, leaving the Patriots with a void under center.
Throughout the offseason, it seemed like the Belichick was prepared to bite the bullet and play either Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer; everything changed, however, on Sunday night. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots hammered out a deal to bring Cam Newton to Foxborough.
While Newton is a clear upgrade over Stidham and Hoyer, the Patriots’ new quarterback isn’t a perfect signal-caller. A look at Bill Belichick’s old scouting reports, however, can explain what the coach will expect from Cam, assuming he claims the starting job.
Bill Belichick’s draft plan explains what he wants from a quarterback
When he steps up to the podium in a press conference, Bill Belichick is famously tight-lipped. Thanks to some old paperwork, though, it’s possible to gain an insight into his famous football mind.
Earlier this year, Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout and current NFL analyst, took to Twitter to share some of his notes from scouting school. One of those documents featured Bill Belichick’s principles for building a team and, more specifically, what the coach looked for at each position.
While there are plenty of gems, the quarterback entry is particularly relevant. “#1 is to make good decisions—then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in, a real competitor,” Belichick explained. “Accurate rather than a guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision [making], timing, and accuracy—guy needs to be confident, intelligence is important, but not as much so as field awareness and judgment.”
“Can’t be [a] fundamentally unsound guy,” Belichick’s notes concluded. “QB has to be able to throw the ball with accuracy.”
Can Cam Newton live up to those standards with the Patriot?
Looking at those key qualities, it’s easy to see why Bill Belichick liked Tom Brady. Cam Newton, however, is a different quarterback.
Comparing Cam to Belichick’s old scouting plan is a bit of a mixed bag. Accuracy and fundamentals seem to be the elephant in the room; Newton has thrown 108 interceptions and completed 59.6% over his nine seasons in the league and has never been the most fundamentally sound quarterback. With that being said, though, injuries have played a significant role in the quarterback’s more recent performances. Players like Patrick Mahomes have also shown that perfect fundamentals aren’t always a prerequisite for NFL success.
On the positive side, though, Newton has the arm, size, and toughness that Belichick wants to see. Greg Olsen has also gone on the record with USA Today praising the quarterback’s leadership, which could be another feather in his cap, especially on a team that just lost a living legend.
Above all else, though, there’s one key reality about Cam Newton that probably caught Bill Belichick’s eye: the quarterback is a depreciated asset. The Patriots are no strangers to reclamation projects. On paper, Newton is automatically the best quarterback on New England’s roster; even if he’s not the perfect Belichick player, it’s a low-risk, high-reward signing.
Beyond his old scouting guidelines, there’s one thing Bill Belichick looks for in a player: the ability to help the New England Patriots win football games. At the end of the day, Cam Newton checks that box; that was enough to land the job.
Stats courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference