Cam Newton proved on Sunday night that the Patriots ‘conservative’ offensive approach is no more.
In Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins, Cam Newton showed off his versatility and impressed in his debut for the New England Patriots. But Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels know how to beat the division-rival Dolphins, so one could argue their conservative offensive approach against their familiar foes won’t fly against better teams.
Newton was the Pats’ leading rusher with 15 carries, and he threw just 19 passes on the day. It was clear New England was merely trying to control the pace and have the defense handle Ryan Fitzpatrick and the weak Miami offense.
But when you consider the Patriots have the hardest schedule in the NFL this year, that simply cannot be their philosophy for the entirety of 2020. Plus, Newton is not a “conservative” player — he needs to be scrambling and taking shots down field.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss provided some much-needed insight here:
"“According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Newton’s 19 pass attempts in Week 1 all had a completion probability of 50% or more. That was the most pass attempts with a completion probability of 50% or more by anyone in a game over the past five seasons.“The conservative approach worked against the Dolphins, and it helped the Patriots never trailed and the Dolphins struggled against the run, but even Newton acknowledged it’s a modest start.”“We’re just trying to keep building, take as much as possible that the defense is going to give us,” Newton said."
Luckily, it only took a week for the team to unleash Newton, who threw 44 times against the Seahawks, logging 397 passing yards, 47 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Good thing Newton is a professional in every sense of the word and was able to grasp the playbook as quickly as he did. Goodbye “conservative” approach — unless, of course, the Patriots need it.
New England has no time to waste and the team likely knew that. Following the Seahawks in Week 2, the Pats have the Raiders, Chiefs, Broncos, 49ers, Bills, Jets, Ravens and Texans. There are some easy ones in there, but overall it’s a slate that will constantly test them. That Week 1 approach wouldn’t have worked against most of these guys.
On top of that, Newton’s development in his hopeful resurgent campaign would’ve hit a snag if the offense chose not to take bigger strides so soon.
But this is Belichick and McDaniels we’re talking about. They’ve praised Newton for working tirelessly and learning fast, so assuming that continues on its current trajectory, fans should expect this offense to do special things after what we saw in the second week.
Despite the 35-30 loss, the offense showed us it could be one of the best units in the league under Newton. When he gets time in the pocket, regardless of who’s catching the ball, the Patriots will be able to march up and down the field on command. It’s only one game, but to be able to do that against Seattle on the road after throwing just 19 passes in his Patriots’ debut, Newton showed us how dangerous the Patriots can truly be in 2020.