Former NFL MVP Cam Newton puts the New England Patriots back in the conversation as a top team in the AFC.
The keyword obviously is health.
Signed to a one-year, incentive laden deal with the Patriots, the 31-year-old Newton seems highly motivated and, on a mission, to show the NFL overall that he can still be the quarterback he was in 2018 prior to injuries that slowed his production.
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Team him with an equally motivated coach in Bill Belichick and suddenly the 2020 New England Patriots have gone from a mediocre team led by second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham to a team that former NFL executive Mike Lombardi believes could challenge the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“To me, I thought they would win over nine games and I said this on my show,” Lombardi said during an appearance on Ordway, Merloni & Fauria on Monday. “I think to me, now it gives them a conversation to be can they beat Kansas City? And the way they have to play, can they beat Kansas City? I think that is the ultimate – can they beat the top teams in the league?”
Lombardi went on to say that he in fact does believe the addition of Cam Newton gives the Patriots a legitimate chance to beat Kansas City.
Obviously, there are some factors which starts with the offensive playmakers around a talent like Newtown. With veterans like Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu to go along with the running back group of Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead, there should be enough for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to keep opposing defenses off balanced.
The level of creativity McDaniels will be able to insert with Newton as the quarterback would be even greater if players like N’Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers make a big year 2 leap and rookie tight ends Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene give more production than they got out of that position in 2019. That is assuming the team doesn’t bring in more veteran help at those positions.
But, the strength of the New England Patriots team is the defense.
Despite losing key players like Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts, the Patriots should still be solid, especially with how strong the secondary is led by 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore.
Of course, the 2020 version of the Patriots will be depending on a collection of young players to make major contributions, but there is enough experience and veteran leadership to make some noise in the AFC, especially now that you have a quarterback and coach combination on a mission to prove something to the league.
In summary, have to agree with Mike Lombardi. On paper, while there are still some holes that put the New England Patriot behind the Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs, they at least have a quarterback in Cam Newtown, who healthy can change the complexion of a football game with his arm and ability to explode out of the pocket.
That is something opposing defenses never had to worry about when Tom Brady was under center.