The decision to sign Cam Newton in NFL free agency has, at least so far, been another stroke of genius by New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
After losing Tom Brady as a free agent, the Patriots did not have another top-tier caliber quarterback on the roster to replace him, so Belichick took a chance on Newton.
The former league MVP has regained the form that made him a top 15 quarterback for nearly a decade. He's completing 68.1 percent of his passes, his four rushing touchdowns lead all quarterbacks and the Patriots own a 2-1 record after three games.
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Bringing in Newton didn't come without risks, though.
His injury history, particularly over the last two seasons, was a concern. There also were questions about whether Newton would fit with Belichick and the Patriots' culture.
Those questions have been silenced. Newton has been a total team player whose dedication to learning the offense has been first rate. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Tuesday singled out one facet of Newton's makeup that's really stood out.
“I have been super impressed with his humility,” McDaniels said at his video press conference. “This guy has accomplished a lot in his career. Being 10 years in the league and doing all the things he has done, coming here and having no familiarity with our coaching style, our system, or the way we do things, I have been incredibly impressed with the way he’s embraced it, looks forward to it, really wants to be coached, wants to be great, wants to improve and is a great example for a lot of our younger players.
“I feel very comfortable coaching him, whether it's practice, meetings, games, walkthroughs because he's such a great listener and he takes nothing personal, which, really, there’s no part of coaching that is personal. It’s just about trying to correct and improve. He’s really done a nice job.”
Newton also hasn't been afraid to openly criticize his own play. The 31-year-old veteran called his Week 3 performance against the Las Vegas Raiders "subpar" and gave himself a 75/100 grade, despite the fact New England won 36-20.
The Patriots, even without Brady and other notable veterans who left the team in the offseason or opted out due to COVID-19, are still one of the top contenders in the AFC. Newton is a major reason for that, and if he can remain healthy for the entire season, New England should be a tough out come playoff time.