When Tom Brady said goodbye to Patriot Nation months ago, many assumed that the New England Patriots‘ dynasty died. However, when Bill Belichick signed Cam Newton for pennies on the dollar, it gave Patriots fans hope that the team could still win without TB12. And on Sunday, Newton confirmed NFL teams’ worst nightmare about the Patriots.
New England lost a ton of talent this offseason
The Patriots entered the offseason with major question marks about their future. Of course, Tom Brady’s impending free agency generated ample discussion. Ultimately, the legendary quarterback left New England for the warm waters of Tampa.
The personnel losses did not stop there, though.
New England’s top-ranked defense watched Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts take their talents to Miami. Star linebacker Jamie Collins reunited with former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia in Detroit. So did Duron Harmon, who got traded to the Lions while he sat at the dentist. Danny Shelton also joined the Lions as a free agent.
The Patriots then lost a league-high eight players to COVID-19 opt-outs. With Dont’a Hightower, Pat Chung, and Marcus Cannon all sitting out the season, some speculated that Belichick could tank in order to secure a better draft pick.
With Cam Newton headlining a roster full of new faces, New England officially turned the page on the Brady era. Only nobody knew what to expect from Belichick’s best bargain signing when he took the field on Sunday.
Newton confirms NFL teams’ worst nightmare
After missing most of the 2019 season with a foot injury, Cam Newton entered Sunday’s matchup against the Dolphins with a point to prove. Just five years ago, he earned NFL MVP honors thanks to his dual-threat skill set. Yet, injuries resulted in the Carolina Panthers moving on from the former No. 1 pick.
In his Patriots debut, Newton silenced his doubters with a rock-solid performance that included 75 rushing yards, 155 passing yards, and two touchdowns. He showcased the dynamic running ability that made him such a force in Carolina and at Auburn. Given their deficiencies at wide receiver and tight end, the Patriots ran their offense through Newton, who proved fully capable of handling the challenge.
By taking down the Dolphins in Week 1 via a ground-and-pound attack, the Patriots sent a terrifying message to the rest of the NFL that they are far from finished. Instead of finally not having to worry about New England, Newton confirmed NFL teams’ worst nightmare that not only Belichick can win without TB12 under center but also the team could be even more dangerous with a healthy Newton leading the offense.
Newton gives Bill Belichick a chance to extend New England’s dynasty
While earning a victory against one of the worst teams in football last season may not impress everyone, NFL teams should be terrified about what they saw from Cam Newton and the Patriots in Week 1. Because given the shortened offseason, the 31-year-old QB has only begun to scratch the surface of his potential in Josh McDaniels’ offense.
McDaniels may have failed to turn Tim Tebow into a star in Denver, but he can atone for that mistake with Newton on board. Given his ability to push the ball downfield and also take off at any moment, defenses cannot just play man coverage exclusively. Otherwise, Newton can simply utilize his legs to take advantage of open space.
During his tenure, Belichick’s teams typically start slow and ramp up as the season goes along. That should be the case this season given the lack of practice time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By midseason, Newton will have had the chance to build valuable chemistry with his receivers and understand the nuances of McDaniels’ system. New England’s offense could become a nightmare to defend, which will only strengthen a team that fielded the NFL’s top-ranked defense in 2019.
As long as Cam Newton stays healthy, he has a terrific chance of resurrecting his career. That will set him up for a massive raise in 2021. If all goes well, don’t be surprised if Belichick is the one who gives it to him.
And should that occur, it means the Patriots will continue to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.