This is a difficult article to write, especially as a lifelong Patriots fan. It is a proven fact that doubting Tom Brady is a bad decision, but that is not what this column is about. While Tom Brady could never be easily replaced after all that he accomplished, somebody was going to have to replace him and that just so happens to be Cam Newton.
Newton is no slouch. The 2011 first-overall pick out of Auburn University is a former Most Valuable Player and Super Bowl finalist. If he retired today he would go down as a tremendous talent who truly lived up to expectations at the highest level. However, he also has an immense injury history that does not mesh well with his physical play style. The Patriots were able to sign him as a result of teams doubting his ability to stay healthy and so far he is making them look foolish.
Newton has had two strong performances as the Patriots quarterback. The same cannot be said for Brady’s performance as the Buccaneers quarterback. Newton has accounted for five total touchdowns this season and has accrued 647 yards between passing and running. Brady has accounted for four touchdowns and 465 yards in the same amount of games. If going by pure statistics, Newton gets the edge.
When looking at record, they are both 1–1. Newton defeated the Miami Dolphins and barely fell to the Seattle Seahawks. Brady was beaten by the New Orleans Saints and cruised by the Carolina Panthers. To put this into layman’s terms, both quarterbacks defeated the team they were supposed to beat and lost to the team that was a true challenge. In this regard, both quarterbacks are in the same boat.
When examining Newton’s command of the Patriots offense, he has exceeded expectations. Newton and the Patriots both had plenty to adjust to, and the pandemic-shortened offseason couldn’t have helped too much in this regard. in spite of this, they seemingly haven’t missed a beat. Newton looks confident, perhaps even more so than he did in previous years with the Panthers. He looks like he is having fun on the gridiron, and that is a change from Tom Brady during the 2019 season.
Brady is happy too. While he was “meme’d” during week one for this photo, he redeemed himself in week Two.
Brady showed up in Week Two. He gave his team a victory and now he is the quarterback of the co-leader of the NFC South. While his statistics may not be flashy, he led his team to victory, a trait that is indicative of the Brady that fans have come to love and hate over the past two decades.
The conclusion of this column may be lackluster for many. Brady-bashing is a common trope for early NFL season banter. This is not happening in this column. The Patriots are also not dead, which was a common conclusion during the offseason. The AFC East still runs through Foxborough, and until some team dethrones the Patriots, that will ring true.
To answer the question raised in the headline, yes the Patriots are better off with Cam Newton. Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have proved that they can adjust to a quarterback not named Tom Brady. However, Brady looks happy in Tampa Bay and is ready to be a problem in the NFC South. The only conclusion that can be made after two weeks is that this breakup is not toxic, just necessary.