SuperCam Returns? Cam Newton Film Room

The sports world was shaken this weekend, as Adam Schefter broke the news that former MVP Cam Newton would be signing a one-year deal with the New England Patriots. Of course, people immediately crowned the Patriots AFC East champions. Why shouldn’t they? Newton is one of the most explosive quarterbacks in NFL history and uniting him with the genius of Bill Belichick gives opposing defenses nightmares. Some thought that the reign of Foxborough was finally going to end after Tom Brady fled to Tampa Bay. Now? Experts and common fans alike believe that the reign may never end.

However, there are skeptics out there about Newton. Some say that he can’t throw or that he is not as mobile as he once was. Some refuse to believe that he could return to his MVP form. Is this true? Is SuperCam dead? I went to the tape to find out.

I chose to watch Newton’s film from the first game of 2019, where the Panthers hosted the LA Rams. In this game, he finished with a 65.7% completion percentage, 239 yards, and an interception. I decided to take a closer look at some of his throws and see if the reports of his demise have been exaggerated or not.

Cam Newton 2019 Week 1 vs the Rams

Newton’s first pass of the game was batted down at the line of scrimmage, but then Christian McCaffrey made a great play on the ball and took it for a seven-yard gain. It was a bad throw and a bad start for Newton, saved by one of the top running backs in the NFL.

Newton then showed flashes of the old Cam. On back-to-back plays, he hit receiver D.J. Moore. The first was on a comeback route to the outside of the field. The ball was on time and on target. He then hit Moore on a route across the middle for another first down. While this ball wasn’t as accurate, it was still on target enough for Moore to make the grab.

Newton missed far too many throws downfield. This one to Moore may have been the worst of the bunch, however.

Newton was responsible for two turnovers in this game. The first one was this backward pass that was ruled a fumble. While the ball was tipped by Sampson Ebukam, it was a bad decision and a bad throw by Newton in the first place.

Here’s another example of Newton missing throws downfield, this one hitting a Rams’ defender square in the back.

The bad throws outweighed the good, but Newton did get the Panthers into field goal range before the half with this pass to Moore.

2nd Half Struggles

The game unraveled for Newton in the second half. He continued to miss open receivers downfield and was ineffective with his feet. Some of that can be attributed to play-calling though, as the Panthers called just one designed run play for Newton, which went for a no gain.

He also had two crucial plays in the fourth quarter that sealed the loss for Carolina. The first was this misfire on a critical third down. He overthrows Curtis Samuel here. If that ball is on target, it is a minimum of a 20-yard gain.

Finally, Newton’s biggest error in this game came in the most important moment. Down by 10 with under six minutes to go, the Panthers needed a scoring drive to remain in the contest. Newton forces this throw to Olsen and it is intercepted by Corey Littleton. It’s a bad decision by Newton, as there were five defenders in the vicinity of Olsen. The ball was also well underthrown, making it easy for the linebacker to pick off.

Overall Thoughts on Cam Newton

In my opinion, a lot of the errors by Newton in this game can be chalked up to rust. He had not played against an NFL defense since late 2018 and was coming off shoulder surgery. However, some parts of this film concern me. He barely hit any throws down the field and was ineffective with his legs. As previously mentioned, the mobility piece was not his fault, as the play calling was conservative to a fault. The throws downfield are the biggest issue. Newton averaged 6.2 yards per attempt in this game. For comparison, Mason Rudolph averaged 6.2 during 2019. Only Mitch Trubisky had a lower YPA during the 2019 campaign (6.1).

If I were a Patriots fan, I would temper my expectations for Newton. There’s always a chance his arm strength is back, and the Rams game was just an outlier. He has had the time to build up his strength and speed this offseason. I will never bet against Bill Belichick. Maybe SuperCam returns and we see plays like this in New England next season.

I hope Newton returns to MVP form; I really do. He’s good for the game of football, and when he’s on, there is no one in the NFL that can compete. It all comes down to the deep ball for me. If Newton is unable to throw it deep, it is hard to imagine him succeeding or even starting for the Patriots in 2020.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images


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