We’re about to discover out if Cam Newton can cope with the Patriot Way, the vaunted and storied and universally glorified strategy of jogging a experienced soccer team in the 21st century. But get ready yourself: In the months just before it transpires, there will be content material to consume.
We’ll breathlessly debate the pressures that await Newton: the steely gaze of Invoice Belichick the swirling fumes of the Tom Brady legend the expectations introduced on by two decades of reliance on the overall spectrum of tactics and practices — the legal, the sorta legal and the certainly unlawful.
The Patriot Way allegedly demands the individual bury within himself every single of the lethal sins — apart from it’s possible wrath — in the pursuit of collective achievements. It is really not just a position, soon after all it’s an obsession. Everywhere you go and all the things bordering the New England Patriots signifies a monklike devotion to the video game. There is no audio in the locker space, no televisions beaming the most recent news from around the league, no frivolous distractions these as pingpong or cornhole.
“I have experienced some moments in which it was rather tense, and there’s a good deal of sacrifice,” Patriots large receiver Jakobi Meyers instructed me in December. “I’ve experienced to notify my household, ‘I cannot do just about anything with you suitable now, because I have obtained to concentration.’ The anticipations are anything you really feel as shortly as you get right here.”
Can Newton handle it? He has been NFL MVP a lot more recently than Aaron Rodgers, and he has been to the Super Bowl much more not long ago than Russell Wilson. Newton seems to be nutritious for the very first time in two several years. He invested previous yr on the sideline for a Carolina Panthers workforce that certain the earth as a short while ago as February he was in its designs, then launched him two weeks later on. Right after months of silence, he was signed to a low-chance contract to quarterback a workforce that was in any other case left with 2nd-calendar year sign-caller Jarrett Stidham, who has important assure but no experience.
Brady in Tampa is a adorable apart, but this is the most remarkable and perhaps shape-shifting transfer of the offseason.
“You virtually marvel, Why would the league allow this?” suggests George Whitfield, a personal quarterback coach who has worked thoroughly with Newton. “From a aggressive standpoint, Cam and Belichick is a normal healthy. It basically takes a shark to realize a different shark.”
It could not operate, for causes the two football-similar and not. Nine yrs of hits — a preposterous 922 of them, 307 more than Wilson in second place, according to ESPN Stats & Information and facts — with Carolina could render him incapable of returning to his peak. On the area, the Patriots’ offense appears to be related to the teams that surrounded Newton with the Panthers: deficient at large receiver, ordinary at functioning back again. Nevertheless, New England has authorized the next-fewest sacks in the league about the 9 decades Newton has been a professional.
Or you will find always the likelihood he chafes at Belichick’s humorless managerial fashion, like so several just before him. But there’s almost nothing in Newton’s specialist historical past that implies he cannot engage in by means of a couple caustic mumbles and dissatisfied-dad glares. Outspoken personalities this sort of as Chris Lengthy and the Bennett brothers (Michael and Martellus) might not have beloved their time under Belichick, but they certainly didn’t hinder the lead to. Two of them received Tremendous Bowls there. If Newton doesn’t revive his vocation in Foxborough, it is just not likely to be for the reason that the organizational philosophy won’t be able to withstand a person who wears fancy hats.
“Suggesting that Cam are unable to adapt to Belichick is a lazy narrative,” Whitfield says. “Cam acknowledges this as a singular option. I can envision Belichick telling him, ‘You have objectives, and you have a chip on your shoulder. We have goals, and our shoulders seem the similar as yours — just not as large.'”
Belichick’s somnolent community persona has so confused the graphic of the Patriots that they have become one particular and the exact same.
“I believe for the reason that of Invoice, the full Patriot Way has a small bit of a fantasy to it,” New England cornerback Jason McCourty explained to me. “The guys who are here and aspect of it never truly see it like that.”
In reality, the Patriot Way can be spelled out by six Tremendous Bowls and in four terms: Get at all fees. This is a team that signed mid-meltdown Antonio Brown and late-stage Randy Moss, soon after he trudged as a result of two seasons in Oakland. A person failed to function, and just one did they paid out Brown more than $9 million for just one match, but Moss rediscovered greatness in Foxborough. Long was outspoken, and he may well have felt constricted less than Belichick, but he claimed he learned much more in 1 year as a Patriot than he could have imagined. The only mystery with the Newton signing is the timing. What took them so extended?
(There was a person plausible motive for the Sunday night announcement: It served as a tsunami to clean away the wake produced by the NFL’s announcement that New England was punished for illegally filming the Bengals’ sideline — section of a series hilariously referred to as “Do Your Task” — during a Cincinnati–Cleveland video game in December. I have no idea if each and every crew engages in this type of shadiness, but the Patriots are without the need of dilemma the worst at receiving absent with it.)
Whatsoever outlandish beliefs or persona quirks Newton possesses, it appears to be unlikely that any could stunt the Patriots’ skill to conform to their proven ways. Get this one particular out of the way to start with: He at the time failed to dive into a move hurry in the hopes of recovering his individual fumble in the Super Bowl. Over and above that, his interactions with the media can be challenging — he is routinely dismissive, at times condescending — but that will be a issue only if Belichick bristles at anyone edging into his territory.
I used appreciable time all over the Patriots previous season, and all-around Newton in the earlier, and if you can find a person issue he and Brady have in common, it is their means to retain their superstar aura by steering very clear of the day by day grind of the locker space. NFL quarterbacks are the league’s guarded course: They exist in an natural environment that is close to hermetically sealed, emerging publicly when through the 7 days and at the time soon after a recreation to fend off queries although standing at a podium. Newton, like Brady in advance of him, is aware how to stick to the script.
What does the Newton signing say about the Patriots? For when, they head into a period accompanied by intrigue, vulnerability and unpredictability. To change Brady with Newton is not a matter of retooling the offense this is Belichick snapping a dry branch more than his knee. In 124 occupation begins, Newton has rushed for 50 yards 42 moments — around at the time every a few video games, and second in NFL heritage to Michael Vick. Belichick has coached 400 typical-period video games, and just after has one of his quarterbacks — Matt Cassel in 2008 — run for 50 yards in a match. Brady experienced 9 seasons with much less than 50 dashing yards.
Josh McDaniels suitable this instant is pivoting from devising an offense for the torpid Brady to the significant and cell Newton, and I cannot help but visualize his confront illuminated by a stack of burning playbooks.
“I cringe just about every time I hear individuals request, ‘Can he do it from the pocket?'” Whitfield states. “Cam’s particularly dazzling. He’s nuanced. There usually are not likely to be any coverages where by he seems up and states, ‘I’ve never observed this just before.’
“He can engage in in the pocket — it really is what he is been accomplishing — but he also has the world’s biggest and baddest parachute on his again, and when he is in difficulties, he can just access out and pull it.”
If he is healthy, of training course. The present-day point out of the world prohibited groups from bringing Newton into their services for a bodily or a exercise, and it ought to also prohibit any individual from obtaining as well giddy about Dolphins-Patriots on Sept. 13. (Sorry, just a reminder that all of this prognosticating could conclusion up getting meaningless as we carry on alongside in the age of the everlasting pregame display.)
But the hazard of the signing is small and the probable reward astronomical. The uncertainties truly feel nearly obligatory. Belichick invested most of the previous 20 a long time observing the very same guy enjoy quarterback, and now he heads into his 21st 12 months with anyone who, if he is wherever near his prime, is a in close proximity to antithesis of the previous male. But if Newton is balanced, he can gain — and when you strip the Patriot Way of all its lore and varnish, that is truly all that is still left. Successful by whatsoever indicates important is the Way — the only Way, all of which is to say, what ever comes about from here ahead figures to convey to us extra about Bill Belichick than it does Cam Newton.