New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton apparently took it to heart that he hadn’t been named the team’s starter. He took it out on the Philadelphia Eagles in Thursday’s Week 2 preseason matchup.
With all eyes on him as rookie first-round pick Mac Jones waits in the wings to be the Patriots’ long-term QB, Newton balled out in Philadelphia, hitting on eight of his nine passing attempts for 103 yards and a touchdown.
The last completion from Newton was a nice touch pass to Jakobi Meyers, who took the crossing route 28 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.
It was yet another display of Newton appearing more comfortable in the Patriots offense entering his second season with New England. ESPN Stats & Info’s anecdote about Newton’s downfield throwing is especially relevant in that context:
Although the Eagles were missing key starters on their defensive line, they were still putting pressure on Newton, causing him to step up in the pocket and slide around to make throws in rhythm.
In years past, the former NFL MVP has rightly had the tendency to take off running. Whether it was protecting himself during a low-stakes exhibition contest or a sign of true growth, Newton stood in the pocket, easily moved around when the pressure was on and confidently delivered strikes all over the field.
Even though Newton signed with New England very late last offseason, he still managed a 7-8 record as a starter with a dearth of skill-position talent at his disposal. Plus, he came down with COVID-19 during the season and wasn’t quite right thereafter.
So, if Newton is the leader and consummate teammate the Patriots have been raving about since he got there, it stands to reason he’ll be much better in 2021.
To reiterate: No need to overreact to what happens in the preseason, but the unique circumstances of Newton’s situation from last year, the heavy criticism he’s taken and Jones’ presence factor in here. It was a pressure situation, and Newton stood and delivered.