It goes without saying Cam Newton didn’t live up to expectations in his debut season with the New England Patriots in 2020, as he ranked near the bottom of the NFL among qualified quarterbacks in almost every relevant statistical category.
Of course, not all of that was Newton’s fault.
Not only was he set up to fail by the Patriots’ questionable roster, but he contracted COVID-19 just as he was establishing a rhythm under center. On top of that, he had less than two months to learn the playbook after signing.
Following a groundbreaking offseason, in which the Patriots overhauled their offense line and revamped their receiving corps, however, Newton will be out of excuses. After all, if he underperforms, the team will actually have a competent backup to turn to this time around (we hope!).
Getting back to Newton’s struggles from last year, we’re not sure if anybody considered that his throwing mechanics (at times) looked wonky.
In fact, the former MVP shared on his YouTube channel on Friday that his shoulder injury hand’t fully healed until the start of 2020.
Cam Newton’s comments on his shoulder injury were eye-opening.
In the video, Newton admitted that, prior to last season, the last time he was fully healthy was back in 2016. The then-Panthers quarterback referenced a game vs the Chargers in which he suffered the shoulder injury trying to make a tackle after throwing an interception.
"“I threw an interception, trying to throw it to Benjy (Kelvin Benjamin),” Newton said. “I tried to go make the tackle, and I tried to push him out, and I extended my arm, and I messed up my AC joint. Ever since then, there’s just been a part of me that’s just been a wounded dog.”"
The injury and its prolonged recovery clearly had a lasting impact on Newton. Unfortunately for him, the pain in his shoulder resurfaced in 2018 and the Panthers lost six straight games after starting the year 6-2. The former No. 1 overall pick missed the final two games of the campaign and underwent reconstructive surgery that offseason.
Though repaired, Newton would still feel the lingering effects of the operation the following season. Not only did the 32-year-old’s throwing motion look compromised, but he admitted his shoulder limited his impact as a runner, which, of course, is a huge part of his game.
"“I feel good at times, but when I’m running, I still feel it,” Newton said. “Instead of running them over (with my right shoulder), I’m going to turn (my left shoulder) and go down.”"
With those comments in mind, it’s baffling to think how effective Newton was with his legs last season. For context, he totaled 592 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.3 yards per carry. His 12 scores ranked first among quarterbacks and tied for third overall among all players.
Let’s get one thing clear: this video wasn’t intended to excuse Newton’s lackluster performance over the years. If anything, we’re relieved he finally got all of this of his chest, because it was clearly impacting his mental state and overall confidence.
Do we buy the notion that his shoulder was fully healthy last season? Sort of, but some of his throws would suggest otherwise. In any event, here’s to hoping he actually has a clean bill of health on his plate in 2021, because the Patriots are going to need him to deliver.