The last time Cam Newton played at a high level was the first half of the 2018 NFL season with the Carolina Panthers, and Norv Turner was his offensive coordinator at the time.
Newton threw 14 touchdown passes with four interceptions and led the Panthers to a 6-2 record in the first eight games. A shoulder injury suffered in the middle of the season prevented him from maintaining that MVP-caliber form, and the Panthers suffered as a result by finishing the season 7-9. Carolina lost the last six games Newton played in 2018. Injuries again impacted him in 2019, and he played in just two games last season before the Panthers released him in March.
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The next chapter of Newton's career will come with the New England Patriots, where he'll give head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a different skill set at the quarterback position than what Tom Brady provided for the last 20 years.
Turner is confident the Patriots looked at Newton's play from the first half of 2018 when evaluating the fit he could have in New England.
"The biggest thing if I could look into the minds of New England and coach (Bill) Belichick when they looked at Cam, I'm sure they looked at, No. 1, when he was playing well. That was the first half of two seasons ago, through a 10-game stretch his numbers were awfully good," Turner said in an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio. "He was playing at a high level, and I think the shoulder was an issue and kept him from doing the things at the end of the season that he had been doing. So I'm sure they looked at things he was doing that were similar to what they do.
"With (Christian) McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Greg Olsen, we were doing things that have pretty much been done by a lot of teams in the league -- the high percentage things like the crossing routes, getting receivers on the run, the options runs with (McCaffrey), which are things that are very similar to what New England does and a lot of people do in the league, it's just how you package it. I'm sure they looked at those things."
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What's the biggest threat Newton poses to opposing defenses? Turner pointed to Newton's ability to make things happen on the run on critical downs.
"When you talk about Cam, you got to look at the things he can do -- the designed runs -- and I don't think you have to do a lot of them, but I think if you do just enough and sprinkle them in, you give the defense something they have to prepare for," Turner explained.
"The threat that I always thought was Cam's biggest threat was when the play broke down and he was able to take off and run, particularly on third down and get those big first downs. Through the first part of the (2018) season he was very successful at doing that. I think the biggest issue I would have is his health. I would have to think that New England, before they signed him, were pretty darn thorough in making sure they knew he was healthy."
Health will always be the concern with Newton, but if he's able to stay on the field, his signing could prove to be one of Belichick's better free agent moves over the last decade.