By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — You know, we here in the Yapping About Sports industry are nothing if not honest, respectable, honorable, and accountable. Everybody knows this.
Nevertheless, it’s important at times to remind the world of our integrity and virtue by reflecting back on our past commentary, even if said commentary ages like a bottle of Mad Dog with no cap.
And so, here at the end of Week 6 of this unique and strange and unprecedented NFL season, it’s only fair that those of us who were riding shotgun on the Cam Newton Hype Train step back and take a snapshot of the situation at hand.
We have to admit that we’re not looking too hot right now!
While spending a chunk of time on the reserve/COVID-19 list and practicing once in a two-week span did him no favors, Cam Newton still looked to have been an extra level of discombobulated during Sunday’s 18-12 loss to the Broncos.
Patriots fans who were displeased with that result likely didn’t enjoy what came on their televisions after the loss, as Tom Brady was nearly perfect in the first half en route a Buccaneers blowout victory over the previously undefeated Green Bay Packers.
While it’s an absolutely foolish exercise to pretend as though a quarterback in one situation with one team could easily and instantly transfer that success to another situation with another team, it nevertheless stands out when the greatest quarterback of all time who was unceremoniously and eagerly pushed out the door in New England (in order to accelerate the Jarrett Stidham-Brian Hoyer succession plan, apparently) is thriving with his new team.
Don’t ya think?
In any event, here’s how the Patriots’ new quarterback and former quarterback performed through the first two weeks of the season, when we all went a little bit gaga for Cam.
CAM NEWTON, WEEKS 1-2
552 passing yards, 8.8 Y/A
1 TD, 1 INT
96.8 passer rating
26 rushes, 122 yards, 4 TDs
TOM BRADY, WEEKS 1-2
456 yards, 6.4 Y/A
3 TDs, 3 INTs
79.3 passer rating
4 rushes, 9 yards, 1 TD
Tompa Brady? He was fine. Whatever. But Cam? Cameron J. Newton? Cameron was electric. A dynamo. A breath of fresh air and everything this Patriots offense needed.
The post-Tom Brady Pats? Same as the Tom Brady Pats. New boss? Same as the old boss. I’m Date Pats. Nice to meet me. How do you like your eggs in the morning?
The Patriots had somehow lucked into Cam Newton, and it was time to lock him up to a long-term deal to ensure another 5-7 years of vying for championships.
Was that perhaps an overreaction to two weeks of football when there was no preseason and a weird training camp and no in-person offseason programs? Maybe. Maybe we got ahead of ourselves.
Here’s how those two have done after getting settled into the season and after defenses had some tape to work with in terms of attacking the QBs.
CAM NEWTON, SINCE WEEK 3
319 yards, 6.0 Y/A
1 TD, 3 INTs
63.3 passer rating
19 rushes, 103 yards, 1 TD
TOM BRADY, SINCE WEEK 3
1,085 yards (7.1 Y/A)
11 TDs, 1 INT
106.4 passer rating
11 rushes, -3 yards
Obviously, Brady’s played four games to Newton’s two. And yes, Brady still had that preposterous fourth-down gaffe vs. Chicago that is, frankly, still hard to believe. And, as previously stated, it’s not as if sliding Brady in place of Newton would magically make the Patriots’ offense as viable as the Buccaneers’ offense. That’s not how sports work in general, and we watched Brady leading this offense last winter. It was no bueno.
Still … STILL … we shouldn’t lose sight of the reality that after 20 years together, the Patriots organization spent at least one year (but maybe two, or three, or four … or five) gently nudging Brady toward the exit. Hearsay reports declared that Belichick was “furious and demoralized” when he had to trade Jimmy Garoppolo and keep Brady; after the trade, Brady led the Patriots to back-to-back Super Bowls, throwing more than 500 yards in one and winning the other after a turn-back-the-clock performance in the AFC title game in Kansas City.
After that glorious moment — a SIXTH Super Bowl victory — Brady wanted to ink his name to a long-term contract. His dream of playing until 45 had been clearly stated for a long time. He was ready to make it happen.
The Patriots didn’t want to make it happen, offering him an “extension” that would automatically void the following March.
The exit had begun. The Patriots were done with Tom Brady.
Right move? Wrong move? It’s too soon to give a definite answer. Objectively speaking, it’s bad business to invest a lot of money in quarterbacks over the age of 38, let alone quarterbacks over the age of 40, let alone quarterbacks who are 43 years old. But on the other side of that argument is the fact that Tom Brady has defied all “normal” expectations going back to his days at Michigan.
(Those of us who said the Bucs didn’t get the real Rob Gronkowski may soon have to reckon with that, as he has 15 receptions for 207 yards and a touchdown in his last four games. We’re not quite there yet … but it’s getting hot in the kitchen. The Patriots getting absolutely nothing out of the tight end position isn’t helping in that regard, either.)
For now, when it comes to Brady and Newton, we’ll continue to keep a running score, so that when it does come time to reach a final verdict, our thoughts are neatly in order. While a lot of football has yet to be played in the 2020 season, the current moment dictates that Brady has moved the needle considerably in his favor after his tepid start to the year.
We probably should have foreseen a slower start for Brady, who was in a new system with new teammates after no real offseason. And we probably should have seen some great early success for Cam, as defenses had absolutely no idea how to defend that style of offense from the Patriots. We also maybe should have taken a deep breath and not jumped to any decisive conclusions after two games, but, well, that wouldn’t have been very fun.
So here we are now. Brady and the 4-2 Bucs are trending one way. Newton and the 2-3 Patriots are trending in the other. We’ll all be sure to keep an eye on the progress as the season continues. We may make some grand proclamations along the way. We’ll be sure to correct them however often Brady and Newton require us to reexamine our beliefs.