Stephen A. Smith doesn’t believe Cam Newton will push the New England Patriots out of a rut, but he doesn’t necessarily blame the signal-caller, either.
The ESPN analyst on Friday’s episode of “First Take” offered a withering assessment of the Patriots’ chances for success in 2021.
Smith was reacting to reports that New England will re-sign Newton on a one-year contract, apparently having decided to run it back with the quarterback who struggled for most of the 2020 season.
“Well, first of all, I don’t think they will win,” Smith said. “They’re 7-9. Last time I checked, when we talk about Bill Belichick, we’re talking about Super Bowls. They don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the Super Bowl with Cam Newton as the quarterback with the weapons they have surrounding him. … Matter of fact, they won’t even get to the playoffs because I don’t see them being better than (AFC East rivals) Miami (Dolphins) or Buffalo (Bills).
” … And again, I know they had a bunch of dudes that elected to opt out and not play last year. So their defense would elevate exponentially … that could potentially win you some games. But ultimately when you’re talking about Cam Newton, and his abilities or whatever it is that he is lacking, don’t we have an obligation to look at the fact that a quarterback is not successful by throwing the football to himself? He’s got to have people to throw the ball to, and when we look at the New England Patriots, there’s nothing to knock our socks off.
“Which gets us to the GM, Bill Belichick. I will never question the greatness of Bill Belichick the coach. … but as an executive, it’s a question mark.”
Although the Newton contract news caught some off-guard, Smith’s take isn’t surprising. The Patriots still have many holes to fill, and Newton’s return probably isn’t one of those move-the-needle transactions.
Nevertheless, Smith probably hasn’t considered deeply how much better Newton might be in Year 2 of his Patriots career. After all, Newton joined the team just weeks before the season, and his bout with COVID-19 did his immersion efforts no favors.
However, Smith’s key point about the Patriots’ lack of weapons still is crucial. If Belichick and Co. don’t recruit additional talent, 2021 might be another long, bleak season in New England.