Cam Newton deserves a slight pass for how things went in the 2020 season.
Sure, he did not do nearly enough in the passing game. But he had few useful weapons, an unusual training camp and was signed late into the offseason, giving him little time to grasp a playbook well-known for being complex.
“For me, the Patriots organization has been impeccable,” Newton said on ESPN Radio, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “My time there has been everything I could have asked for. I guess it?s now time for me to uphold my end of the bargain, through and through. …
“I don’t want to get so caught up in promises and things like that, but I can guarantee you that there’s been a shift in comfort of knowing more. And I think that’s added value in itself. … I know who I am. At times, I do remind myself people forget who you are, and what you’ve done. So now I’m a position now where I need to be my best self. It’s really put-up or shut-up time.”
After re-signing with the Patriots at the beginning of the offseason, Newton has had months to continue studying the playbook. Bill Belichick then went on a spending spree, adding Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, among others, to fix the weapons issue. Then, there were OTAs and minicamp this offseason, plus a full training camp and preseason begins at the end of the month.
In other words, he’s being afforded the same opportunity everyone else is to get comfortable. And with first-round pick Mac Jones breathing down his neck, Newton has to show out early or he’ll get stapled to the bench in a heartbeat.