Patriots

If Cam Newton can recapture 2018 form, Patriots should win the AFC East

If Cam Newton can recapture 2018 form, Patriots should win the AFC East

It wasn't all that long ago that Cam Newton was a good quarterback in the NFL. Very good, even.

Through the majority of the 2018 season, before a shoulder injury worsened and sapped his production, he was among the top passers in the league. 

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Consider some of these numbers...

Through Week 9 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — Newton ranked in the top five in Pro Football Focus' positively-graded throw rate. 

Through Week 9 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — he gave his receivers a chance to make plays, checking in with the eighth-lowest uncatchable pass rate, per PFF.
  
Through Week 9 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — PFF graded him as the 11th-best passer in football. 

Through Week 11 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — Newton had a 68.4 completion percentage. Had he stayed healthy enough to maintain that number, that would've placed him seventh in that category that season. 

Through Week 11 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — Newton had a quarterback rating of 102.7, which was seventh in the league at that time. 
 
Through Week 11 of the 2018 season — just two seasons ago — he also remained one of the premier run threats at the position, picking up 141 scramble yards on 21 scrambles (an average of 6.7 yards per non-designed rush), according to PFF. That was a slightly better average than the significantly-younger scrambling passer Dak Prescott (6.5 yards per scramble).

And that was with a right shoulder that needed surgical repairing in January following the season. His yards-per-attempt figure for the season ranked him 22nd, an indication he was not pushing the ball down the field all that often or that successfully. 

Here’s a good illustration of just how ineffective Newton was passing downfield that season. 

Newton’s shoulder should’ve been in good shape for 2019 but we hardly got a good look at him. He broke his foot in preseason, throwing off his mechanics and his arm action for the two games in which he played last season before being shut down. 

If he could play as a top-third-of-the-NFL quarterback for the majority of 2018 (with a deteriorating shoulder) then shouldn’t there exist the possibility (now that it’s been a year since the shoulder was repaired) he can recapture that form?

Understanding the price point at which Newton arrives to New England, it makes all kinds of sense to see if he can recapture that 2018 form. He doesn’t have to be an NFL MVP the way he was in 2015 in order to give the Patriots a chance. Bill Belichick still has one of the best defenses in football, and if his offensive line can stay healthy that should lead to a potent running attack. 

Add it all up, and they should be the favorites in the division, which DraftKings Sportsbook says is exactly what has happened

No surprise here, even if Newton is on a short-money deal and not exactly guaranteed to be the starter because of the uncertainty surrounding his health, but the Patriots now have better Super Bowl odds as well. 

All it would take for the Patriots to make good on those wagers would be for Newton to recapture whatever it was he had in 2018. That wasn’t all that long ago, remember. 

 

Patriots 53-man roster projection entering training camp

Patriots 53-man roster projection entering training camp

The Patriots have already hit the field in Foxboro, but we'll have to wait until Monday to see them put the pads on for the first time.

It will be a training camp unlike any other; New England was supposed to open the preseason Thursday night against the Lions — and their 2020 season-opener against the Dolphins is just a month away.

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But Bill Belichick will have a lot of decisions to make over the next few weeks. Will Cam Newton seize the starting QB job as expected — and will the team carry both Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as well? How can the team make up for a league-high eight opt-outs including defensive stalwarts Dont'a Hightower and Patrick Chung along with starting right tackle Marcus Cannon? How many of the team's 10 draft picks from this spring will make the team?

Those questions will be answered over the coming weeks, but before practices begin in earnest, let's take an early look at how the team's roster will shake out.

Click here for the Patriots' 53-man roster projection entering training camp.

 

Lamar Miller, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirm RB's signing with Patriots

Lamar Miller, agent Drew Rosenhaus confirm RB's signing with Patriots

Lamar Miller officially is a member of the New England Patriots, it appears.

The Patriots still haven't announced Miller's signing after a report Monday that the free-agent running back had agreed to a one-year contract with the team.

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But Miller's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, confirmed his client put pen to paper Wednesday to join the Patriots.

Miller also confirmed the news by sharing Rosenhaus' announcement on his Instagram story.

 

Miller has topped 1,000 rushing yards in two of his eight NFL seasons and made the Pro Bowl with the Houston Texans in 2018. He missed the entire 2019 season due to a torn ACL, however, and his days as a workhorse running back might be behind him at age 29.

Still, the Patriots could use Miller's services with reports that Sony Michel may not be ready for Week 1 as he recovers from ankle surgery. Miller could fill Michel's role as an early-down rusher to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris.

Miller wasn't spotted at Patriots training camp Wednesday, but expect him to show up at Gillette Stadium soon now that his deal is official.