"Cam's been great for us, he's a very, very unselfish player, a great teammate," head coach Bill Belichick told reporters after a 21-11 win over the Miami Dolphins. "He's earned everybody's respect daily. He puts himself last and puts his team first. I thought he played well today."
The game likely offered a taste of what's to come from the Patriots following the departure of Tom Brady. Belichick appears happy to base his offensive approach around what Newton brings to the table.
The 2015 MVP was an efficient 15-of-19 for 155 yards and finished as New England's leading rusher. He went for 75 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Brady, by comparison, never eclipsed 41 rushing yards in any of his 285 games for the franchise.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
The Patriots offense looks just a little different. - Newton had 15 rushes, most ever by a Patriots QB in a game. - Newton ran for 75 yds, the most by a Patriots QB since 1977 (Steve Grogan). - NE rushed 42 times for 217 yds, both their most in a season opener under Belichick. https://t.co/7QziXOatKp
Newton had foot surgery last December, so one question throughout the offseason was whether he could still be the kind of dynamic runner he was at his peak. Perhaps his 934 career carries were beginning to add up.
The 31-year-old wasn't having any problems running through Miami's defense.
It really shouldn't have been this simple for one of the NFL's greatest dynasties to replace perhaps the greatest quarterback in league history. Sure Newton was a distressed asset coming off an injury-riddled 2019, but his potential value—at the veteran minimum no less—was clear for everybody to see.
Perhaps this was a false dawn and Newton will go backward.
For now, the Pats aren't missing a beat without Brady.