Many questioned how the Patriots would play this season without Tom Brady at QB for the first time in 19 years, but after week one, the Patriots are 1-0 following a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins at Gillette. You would have to go all the way back to 2000 to find a New England week one game not started by Tom Brady. No one knows who the long-term option for the Pats is, but Cam Newton has the keys to the offense for 2020.
Cam Newton last played in a professional football game a year ago for the Carolina Panthers in a 20-14 defeat against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game where Newton completed only 49% of his passes and logged 0 rushing yards. Newton would undergo foot surgery later that year, which likely explains his lack of mobility in that game.
Fast forward to yesterday and Cam Newton looked close to his MVP form. Newton completed 79% of his passes for 155 yards, and he also ran for 75 yards with 2 rushing TDs. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels called many designed QB runs specifically for Cam Newton, which is something that has not been in Belichick’s playbook in the last 20 years.
In his Monday morning press conference, Belichick said, “When your starting quarterback has things that he’s good at it or things that that you can take advantage of, then I think you try to take advantage of.” Belichick realizes that Newton is not the same QB as Brady, so he is not going to run the same playbook he has used for the past 20 years. Newton has a lot more mobility, so Belichick and McDaniels drew up plays that would play to those strengths.
New England’s offense may have caught Miami off guard, so it will be interesting to see how other teams gameplan for a Cam Newton led offense. Belichick and McDaniels featured a lot of read options and motion plays in this game and I would not be surprised to see RPOs in the coming weeks.
Another major question mark for the Patriots was the defense. New England lost players like Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy in free agency and Patrick Chung and Dont’a Hightower to Covid-19 opt outs. New England’s defense still balled out even with these subtractions.
In week one, the defense logged 3 INTs, 1 sack, 7 TFLs, 5 PD, and 5 QB hits. Newly acquired Safety Adrian Phillips filled the void of Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon with 8 total tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 INT. Reigning DPOY Stephon Gilmore also came away with an INT.
Two players to watch on defense this season are DE Chase Winovich and LB Ja’Whaun Bentley. Winovich looked great against Miami with 6 total tackles, 1 TFL, and 1 QB hit. Bentley did not do anything spectacular, but he is a guy that good replace Kyle Van Noy on the roster.
It is important to note that this win came against a Miami Dolphins team that is currently rebuilding. New England has a tough task in week 2, as they’ll travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks on Sunday Night Football.