It seems like forever ago that Cam Newton was playing at an MVP level for the Carolina Panthers. However, before being plagued by a shoulder injury during the 2018 season, Newton was playing remarkably well under offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
In the first eight games of the 2018 campaign, Newton would throw for 1,893 yards, 15 touchdowns, and four interceptions. At the same time, he would continue to be a lethal asset with his legs, rushing for 342 yards and four touchdowns in that eight-week span.
Unfortunately, the All-Pro quarterback would have his stellar season derailed by a shoulder injury he sustained in Week 10 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he would play until Week 15, it was evident that he wasn’t the same quarterback he was earlier in the season. During his long road to recovery, Newton would have to rework his throwing motion in the offseason.
Despite the shoulder injury, the pairing of Newton and Turner appeared to work wonders for the Panthers. Fast forward to now and the New England Patriots are hoping to get the same level of efficiency from Newton after signing him.
Ever since the Patriots agreed to terms with Newton, everyone has been asking several questions. Can Newton remain healthy for an entire season still? Will Newton be an ideal fit for Josh McDaniels’ offensive scheme? Contrary to what some believe, Turner informed Bill Belichick himself that Newton would be perfect for New England’s offense.
If Newton is able to maintain his health in 2020 with the Patriots, then it will be up to McDaniels to utilize him correctly. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how McDaniels can replicate what Turner did in 2018 with Newton.
How McDaniels can put Newton in the best possible position to succeed
Back in 2018, when Newton was playing nearly flawlessly under center, Turner was the mastermind of Carolina’s offense. The longtime NFL offensive coordinator configured ways to use Newton’s strengths to the best of his ability.
Altogether, Turner preaches efficiency in his offense and using play-action heavily. Of course, by watching McDaniels’ offense, those are two things that he preaches in his schemes as well. One of the only differences is that Newton will have to learn McDaniels’ more complex offense that uses specific terms instead of numbers like Turner.
While Newton was shredding NFL defenses in 2018, he was able to complete a career-high 67.9 percent of his passes. Before Turner arrived, the former No. 1 pick’s accuracy was always a topic of discussion.
Furthermore, when Turner ran play-action in 2018, Newton converted 75.1 percent of his play-action attempts (best in the NFL). Allowing Newton to work off of Carolina’s rushing attack paid dividends under Turner. As a result, McDaniels will look to do the same, giving Newton a chance to get into a rhythm early in games.
Besides using a heavy dose of play-action, Turner allowed Newton to continue being a versatile weapon in the running game. The three-time Pro Bowler finished the 2018 season with 488 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Newton’s ability to create with his legs is something that McDaniels is not accustomed to with the Patriots. While Tom Brady boasts an uncanny ability to maneuver in the pocket, he isn’t going to strike fear into the defense due to his rushing ability. Now, with Newton manning the offense, McDaniels can open up his playbook a bit more than previous years.
Lastly, Turner did a splendid job at enticing Newton to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Throughout the 2018 season under Turner, Newton excelled at throwing the ball between 0-14 yards.
Altogether, the former All-Pro quarterback completed 76.5 percent of his passes between 0-14 yards. Not to mention, he would also record 19 touchdowns and only six interceptions when throwing between 0-14 yards. Provided that, Turner’s decision to have Newton uncork the ball swiftly worked to perfection.
Seeing that Brady is the king of getting rid of the ball before the pass rush arrives, McDaniels isn’t a stranger to the idea. If McDaniels follows similar guidelines as Turner, Newton could fit flawlessly in New England. And if he does avoid injury, the Patriots could witness their dynasty stay alive in 2020.