New England Patriots: Shocking release of Cam Newton is a big mistake

Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The question can legitimately be asked today whether the shocking release of Cam Newton by the New England Patriots could prove to be a mistake of earth-shattering magnitude for the team.

Head football honcho Bill Belichick has just let another MVP quarterback fly the coop as he did after the 2019 season when Tom Brady hit the streets for the warm climate of Tampa Bay.

Today, Belichick took a similar step into the unknown by sending Cam Newton packing. Mac Jones, the rookie phenomenon is the new starting quarterback for the New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots cutting Cam Newton could ruin their season

It was always clear that Bill Belichick’s modus operandi is to play the best players no matter what. In this case, he obviously thought that Mac Jones was the guy. Fine.

Yet the difference in his play and Newton’s was minuscule. And that’s where the rub is. They both played well in the pre-season, the caterwauling of Boston’s beat writers notwithstanding.

Newton had a solid pre-season. He completed 67 percent of his passes and was victimized by his stone-fingered receivers as was Jones.

There were more drops by New England wide receivers than raindrops falling in a heavy New England downpour. And, oh yeah, Newton bounced a pass in his last game for the Patriots.

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So the talking heads tore his helmet off even though the receiver was blanketed like the ground after mid-winter snow in Vermont. And by the way, Brady bounced more balls in 2019 than the Celtics point guards did. It was a total embarrassment.

Well, in any event, the ham-handed New England writer’s got their way and Newton will be playing elsewhere. And he will play well. It’s a bad decision by Belichick and here’s why.

Now, if you’re expecting me to say that Mac Jones isn’t the real deal, get real. This space has lauded the young slinger to the hilt in several articles. To the hilt. No argument, he’s terrific.

There is no doubt here whatsoever that he will not just be a good NFL quarterback but indeed a great one if he stays healthy. That’s a big “if”.

The New England Patriots are toast if Mac Jones get injured

Mac Jones notches 70 percent completion rates with pitiful receivers to throw to in his sleep and he may even do better than that. He did last season at Alabama. He’s no fluke. He’s the real deal.

Who’s to say what he can and hopefully will do if the team’s personnel operation ever gets the brilliant idea that they should trade for (they obviously can’t draft one) an all-world receiver.

But again, that’s if he stays healthy. And that’s the rub in this whole business. New England was terrifically situated at quarterback, again, the most important position on the field and in sports.

They had two top guns in Newton and Jones. That’s what’s called strength-in-depth. Now they don’t. It’s as simple as that. The right play was to start Cam and hope he continues to shine.

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But, if he either faltered or more likely with his style of play got injured, you’ve got the best backup cover maybe in the entire NFL in young prodigy, Mac Jones.

Now, that safety blanket is gone. There’s no one on the depth chart with any ability to step in and lead this team to a playoff berth. No one.

For the team’s sake, New England Patriots fans have to hope that Mac Jones doesn’t get injured and that possibility exists in the NFL on each and every play he takes the ball from under center.

If he stays healthy, there is no doubt here he will light up the league. It may take a few games but it seems certain that without a doubt the monster talent is there.

But now, with no legitimate backup on board, Belichick has rolled the dice big-time and let a still very good NFL quarterback hit the street. If he rolls snake eyes, his team is done.

If Mac gets hurt, the Patriots’ season will be flushed down the drain faster than Julio Jones could run under a deep ball thrown by Mac Jones.

They’ll be toast. And Belichick can then look in the mirror and think of what could have been and should have been. Not starting Cam Newton, and then releasing him is at best a short-sighted move.

The release was almost certainly a professional courtesy to a top person and professional who gave his all to this team in 2020 and deserved that courtesy and a whole lot more.

Strategically, it places everything on the shoulders of one player, a young player who has never even taken one snap in an NFL game for real. If he gets hurt, the 2021 team is done for.

The right play, the smart play would have been to start Cam and hold the young star in reserve. Yet, Belichick and his offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels made this offensive call.

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And they will have to live with the consequences if Mac gets hurt. Hopefully, he has the same good fortune as old No. 12 did for all but one of his seasons for the New England Patriots.

Yet, if he gets hurt early, this team’s season is over right then and there and owner Robert Kraft, who invested a barrel full of money in this season, ain’t gonna like that one bit.