Cam Newton officially signed with the New England Patriots on July 8th, 2020. For 67 days we discussed, debated, and even argued each detail of the new horizons coming to Foxborough down to the bone. Newton finally took the field for his first game as a Patriot draped in their new home uniform. The change in uniforms have been a disappointment to many, But Cam Newton’s performance was not.
The Patriots opened their first drive with five straight runs. A failure by Newton to recognize the blitz and check out of play-action followed a Julian Edelman drop. New England punted on their first possession. The offense responded with a 11-play, 80-yard drive capped off with a Cam Newton rushing touchdown. It was not followed by a roar of the New England crowd, but the buzz was still in the air. The new quarterback had officially checked in.
Newton finished the day as the Patriots’ leading rusher with 75 yards on 15 carries. Cam complemented his rushing attack with 155 yards passing on 15/19 C/Att. The Patriots totaled 217 yards on the ground, averaging 5.2 YPA with contributions from all four running backs.
J.J. Taylor secured a roster spot on Opening Day in Damien Harris’ absence. The undrafted rookie was only on the field for 9 snaps (14%) but made the most of his opportunities. His size and speed allowed him to sneak through Miami’s front seven. Taylor finished the day with 28 yards on 4 carries. He also had a reception for 4 yards. Pro Football Focus gave Taylor highest-grade of the Patriots running backs on Sunday. He will have an additional two weeks to prove his worth until Damien Harris is activated off the IR.
David Andrews had plenty of fun with his new quarterback. “It was awesome, and you know you have to love watching that guy play the game and seeing all of the work that he has put in. I am super proud of him and we had some fun out there today. … It’s been so much fun getting to work with this guy. … That was pretty cool. That was pretty fun.”
I do not think his former quarterback had much fun yesterday.
The Patriots took advantage of their running threat by utilizing their play-action. New England either ran or used play-action on 52 of their 63 offensive plays (82.5%).
Fans and critics spent Monday arguing how far New England’s playing style could carry them this year. They must have forgot there was no preseason this year, and each week comes with a different game plan. Newton will not have the most carries each week, but the Patriots will be a run-heavy team. They integrated new running schemes to evaluate what worked well. Cam ran the option with all four running backs. He scored both of his touchdowns on a QB power. McDaniels called a QB draw in empty formation to convert a 3rd and 5, which they did. He teed up a QB run on 4th down that set up a Sony Michel touchdown to ice the game on the following play. They also mixed in RPOs.
The 2019 Seahawks allowed 1883 rushing yards, the 11th most in the league. They gave up another 4223 yards in the air, coming in 6th place. The Seahawks did made improvements to their defense in the offseason, including the addition of arguably the best safety in the league to reignite the Legion of Boom. But Jamal Adams is no stranger to Bill Belichick. The front seven must keep the pressure on Russell Wilson and prevent him from escaping the pocket. Their big-bodied cornerbacks will face a physical matchup with D.K Metcalf. Their speedy ones will need to contain Tyler Lockett. Newton and McDaniels may have to get creative in the passing game if they want to stay in the game.
The Patriots face a difficult schedule that features matchups against the Seahawks, Chiefs, Broncos, 49ers, and Bills over the next eight weeks. A win on Sunday could be a huge momentum swing for this team. Cam will have his first challenge to show what he’s still got.
Seattle has the fifth best Super Bowl Odds after Week 1 (+1400). New England sits two spots behind them and are tied with the Cowboys at +1800.
1-0. On to Seattle.