Deion Branch doesn’t believe Cam Newton needs to play at an elite level in the 2021 NFL season in order for the Patriots to be successful.
Newton effectively was a shell of his past self in his first season with New England. The 2015 MVP threw more interceptions than touchdown passes, and the Patriots posted a sub-.500 record for the first time since 2000 in part due to his poor play.
But the veteran quarterback will have a chance to redeem himself in the upcoming campaign. Branch, who knows a thing or two about having success in Foxboro, expects to see an improved Newton in 2021 and thinks even modest production from the three-time Pro Bowl selection would put New England in a good spot.
“Given the offseason (he’ll have), I think we’ll see a better Cam,” Branch said at the Patriots’ season-ticket member draft preview, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “Everybody is always talking about the 2015 [MVP] Cam Newton, but I’d like to go back to just the 2018 (version) — 67.9% passing, 24 TDs, 13 interceptions. If they can get that type of performance, I think this will be a great year.”
A bolstered offense in New England also should take pressure off Newton. The Patriots now have a pair of top-tier tight ends to go along with a loaded stable of running backs and a strong offensive line. If Newton takes on more of a “game manager” approach and limits turnovers, New England’s offense could be a respectable unit.
Of course, it remains to be seen if Newton will be the Patriots’ starting quarterback for the duration of the campaign. New England all but surely will draft a signal-caller in a few weeks, potentially even in the first round.