The Rebirth of Cam Newton

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Sridhar Shenoy, Staff Writer

Flashback to 2015: Drake’s “Hotline Bling” is topping charts and Cam Newton is the best player in the National Football League, leading the 15-1 Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Since then, 2015 “Superman Cam” has been nowhere to be seen, putting up pedestrian numbers for the next three seasons until his season-ending injury in the second week of the 2019 season. 

At the end of last season, he was eventually released from the Panthers. and watched as more and more teams passed on him for other free-agent quarterbacks. On his 86th day out of the league, the New England Patriots finally picked him up on a cheap one year deal to replace Tom Brady. 

Now that three weeks are in the books, Newton is proving all his doubters wrong and making his push for 2020 Comeback Player of the Year. His 397 passing yards in week two was more than Tom Brady had gotten since the 505 yard effort in Super Bowl 52. Cam has his offense running like a well-oiled machine and has shown that the team can push the ball down the field in multiple ways: quarterback rushing in week one, air attack in week two, and ground and pound rushing week three. 

The key to Cam’s success has been the development of the run game early in games leading to play-action passes for 10-15 yards later on. The threat of the run leaves the middle of the field open as linebackers vacate their position in order to get an early jump on run stuffing.

This open field is where Julian Edleman is most effective—evident in his career-high 179 yards on 8 receptions in week two. Unlike last year, where Edelman was virtually the only receiving threat on the team, wide-outs such as N’keal Harry and Damiere Byrd are now getting touches in this new system.

Even when receivers are covered, Cam has shown the ability to remain in the pocket and wait for a receiver to break free and as a last resort, scramble for a solid five-yard gain.

Despite Cam’s recent surge, the Patriots are only second in the AFC East as the Buffalo Bills remain undefeated. The road to the division title will be a rough one and the schedule this year is one of the most difficult in the league.

On Sunday, the Patriots will head to Arrowhead Field to take on the Kansas City Chiefs, arguably the best team in the league right now. A loss would be devastating as they would fall to 2-2 and a Buffalo win would likely increase the one-game gap to two. A win would solidify the Patriots as a Super Bowl contender and put the pressure right back on the Bills.

Off the field, Newton is releasing a documentary series called 86 Nights inspired by the 86 nights he was contractless. This news comes after his roundtable discussion with Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham, Jr, and Todd Gurley where the four discussed racial issues plaguing America and the NFL’s role in social justice.

In that discussion, Cam’s offseason struggles were touched upon and his documentary seeks to expand on the topic. All offseason Cam has been preaching mentality in short YouTube and Instagram clips including some interesting monologues. If they are anything close to what the documentary will offer, it will be a powerful and enlightening film to take in.

Needless to say, this year is crucial for Cam’s career. He is currently severely underpaid for a quarterback of his caliber but has reiterated multiple times that his concern is not on the money, but his legacy. If Cam wants to be considered as one of the all-time greats and not a one-hit-wonder, he is going to have to become “2015 Cam” and lead the Patriots to a deep playoff run.