2. Force Cam Newton to win with his arm
Everyone lauded the Pats for stealing Newton on a one year minimum contract. For what it’s worth, I still think it was a good move. Anyone that expected Newton to have a comeback player of the year campaign always sounded a little crazy to me though.
His shoulder strength and arm talent have gone straight downhill. For the year, Newton has thrown for four touchdowns, nine interceptions, 1984 yards.
His 2020 passer rating and QBR are only slightly above previous career lows. 66.9% is a decent completion percentage, but he’s throwing for the third lowest yards per attempt mark of his career.
The formula for the Patriots’ usage of Newton is pretty simple. They win games where they don’t have to rely on him throwing. When Newton throws 20 or fewer passes per game, the Patriots are 3-1. These are usually games where James White and Damien Harris lead the way on the ground. The one loss was also to San Francisco, a game in which he was benched in a blowout loss.
When Newton throws more than 20 times in a game, the Pats are 2-4. Gus Bradley should consistently have eight or nine in the box ready to either bring down a running back. The Chargers haven’t been able to stop the run recently, but they have to for any chance to win. Increasing Newton’s throwing volume is a must, as they must dare him to beat them with his arm.