NFL ANALYST

Cassel: Here's what a Cam-led Pats offense could look like in Week 1

NFL ANALYST

Josh McDaniels' offense is one of the more quarterback-friendly systems I've played in. 

Yes, the New England Patriots put a lot on your plate with protection schemes and different checks at the line of scrimmage. But Josh also wants to know what you like and what types of plays you're most familiar with. 

He'll play to those strengths and at the same time implement a game plan that will give you some easy throws, screen passes and quick throws in play action that are very difficult for defenses to cover.

Curran's 2020 NFL predictions: How far will Pats fall post-Brady?

I think the Patriots can show the Miami Dolphins a lot of different formations early in Week 1 with Cam Newton under center.

Josh has always been really good about using different personnel groups early in the game to get an understanding for the adjustments that the defense is making: Which personnel groups are they matching versus big personnel? When the offense goes to 11 personnel (three wide receivers), is the defense going to nickel coverage? Are they going to dime coverage on third down and do they have a blitz package that's associated with their third down coverage?

The more looks the Patriots can give Miami early in the game, the more they can keep the defense on its toes. They can see how the defense adjusts and have a better feel as the game goes on of how the Dolphins are trying to attack them defensively.

For Cam, it’s really important that he gets into a rhythm early with easy completions, maybe some screen passes to give him confidence that will really help going forward.

 

It will also be interesting to see how much the zone read comes into play, and off that zone read, the pop passes and easy completions where it's a two-man read to get him into a rhythm.

The Patriots aren’t going to come out and throw the ball 40 times Sunday and rely on the passing attack. I believe they're going to try to establish the run early and set up some different scheme runs that they've created, whether it's the zone read or RPOs (run-pass options) and do some play action off that.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Matt Cassel gives his slant on the real impact of Cam Newton  | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

If Newton gets to run the ball and be a football player, that will also get him into a rhythm, because part of what he does best is making plays outside the pocket. 

They might run bootlegs, as well -- anything to get him into a rhythm. After they establish the run and start pounding the ball a bit, then they can set up some of these deeper play action passes and shot plays to pick up chunk yardage and cut the field in half.

Here’s the big advantage for New England: There’s no film on Newton in a Patriots uniform. 

The Dolphins can go back and look at Jacoby Brissett and the zone read he ran for McDaniels in 2016, because he was more of an athletic quarterback similar to what Cam presents.

However, there is no getting ready for Cam Newton -- especially when there's no film out there.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel, who had a 14-year NFL career that included four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008), is back on the NBC Sports Boston team for his second season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.