Cam Newton struggled mightily for a stretch this season with the New England Patriots, but he seems to have figured things out over the last couple of weeks.
The Pats quarterback has his team riding a modest two-game win streak heading into Sunday's Week 11 matchup vs. the Houston Texans. While there's still plenty to prove, there's been pretty significant improvement in Newton's numbers since his slump.
If Newton helps the Patriots pull off another W again on Sunday, will it be safe to consider him a top-10 quarterback in the NFL? Phil Perry posed that question to Tom E. Curran and Matt Cassel on a new Patriots Talk Podcast, and a debate ensued.
"I would pump the brakes on that one," Cassel said. "The only reason I say that is, yes, analytically speaking the numbers support the progress and we've absolutely been seeing progress. At the same time, I think Josh McDaniels has done an extraordinary job of play design. ... But overall, we're still talking about a very simplistic gameplan.
"We're not pushing the ball much down the field. They're not asking him to do much in the pass game but just be efficient, be effective and that's what he's been. So while the numbers say that yes, he's been effective, he's been efficient, I still don't put him in the top-10 caliber for quarterbacks right now in the NFL."
Curran decided to take one for the team and throw Newton into the top-10.
"I'm going to do it. I'm going to put him there," said Curran. "Here's why: The games where he played like an absolute moron were games in which the Patriots were victims of circumstance. I hate to say that because it's an excuse for them, but it is valid.
"The Denver game, certainly the San Francisco game, Cam has to share an immense amount of blame for the way he didn't take care of the ball but since the come-to-Jesus meeting I'm guessing happened, the way he's turned the corner with his performance taking care of the ball -- Bills game notwithstanding -- he's doing what you need a quarterback to do to win. I think that earned Ryan Tannehill for instance credit in terms of being considered a top-10 guy ... I think Cam is playing like a top-10 quarterback."
Perry isn't ready to hop on board the Newton hype train just yet, but he may change his mind if the Patriots QB keeps it up for another month or so.
"I won't put him in the top 10 right now," said Perry. "If he keeps this up, and we see another month of similar performances ... if he's not making mistakes, and he is hitting the occasional big play [then he'll be in the top 10]."
Also discussed on the new episode: Patriots have an opportunity to prove they are legit vs. Texans. How feasible Is it for the Patriots to make the playoffs? Would you build your franchise around Deshaun Watson? Is J.C. Jackson a No. 1 corner? And official Pats-Texans predictions.