After literally laughing off the idea that there is a post-Tom Brady competition at the quarterback position this summer in New England, former NFL wide receiver and current ESPN radio host Keyshawn Johnson made it clear that he thinks Cam Newton is going to have immediate success with the Patriots.
“Y'all stop,” Johnson said of reports that Newton isn’t guaranteed the job, chuckling through the early parts of a Thursday afternoon interview with the Ordway, Merloni and Fauria Show on WEEI. “Wink, wink. Yeah, sure. At the end of that, I think it’s a great fit. I think the beauty of Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick is, I wasn’t a huge Josh McDaniels head coaching fan when he was in Denver. But I like what he does from an offensive standpoint. He puts people in the right position to make plays, taking advantage of mismatches and doing some of those things. I think he’s really good at doing that. But I also think that he’s been around Bill so long that he’s going to know what to do with a guy like Cam Newton.”
Johnson referenced the Patriots 11-5 season of 2008 when Brady was lost in the first game to a torn ACL and wondered what Belichick could accomplish with a quarterback fully prepared for the season.
“Now he gets Cam Newton in his lap. And if he went 11-5 with Matt Cassel and Cam Newton is way better than Matt Cassel ever was, that they are going to work magic together. It’s not going to be the same offensively, it’s going to be designed differently but they’ve got something to work with that they’ve never had before. Now they get an opportunity to make adjustments and not try to plug him in as a plug-and-go like they would do at other positions.
“Certainly Matt Cassel did some things to win those games. But Matt Cassel ain’t Tom Brady and he sure as hell ain’t Cam Newton,” Johnson added later.
Johnson, clearly a fan of Newton’s and what he brings to New England, explained that having a different quarterback with a different makeup for the first time in 20 years presents an chance for a new look and a new life for the Patriots offense.
“It’s giving you an opportunity to do different things,” Johnson said of Newton’s skills. “Because Tom Brady certainly does things differently and probably better than Cam Newton in certain situations. But I can almost guarantee you that Cam Newton does things way more superior than Tom Brady ever would. And I ain’t just talking about running. I’m talking about being able to escape the pocket, being able to buy more time, all of those sort of things that are given to him that wasn’t given to Tom Brady, which is his legs and his strength and all of those sort of things. So when you are a coach and you have that at your disposal you utilize that. And you say, ‘OK, instead of this particular play on second-and-9 that I would do with Tom Brady, because I have Cam Newton I can call this play that I wish I could have called with Tom Brady.’”
Beyond the skills and on-field production, there have been questions about how Newton might fit with Belichick and the so-called Patriot Way. Newton himself admitted upon learning of New England’s interest in signing him that his first reaction was questioning how he’d mesh with his new head coach.
“Bill Belichick’s had different personalities before. Cam Newton is not the first different personality. The man coached Lawrence Taylor,” Johnson emphasized on OMF. “He coached Corey Dillon and Randy Moss. So, he’s been around 17,000 years. So he knows personalities. I think a lot of times too many people, not just in New England but on the outside, get caught up in the Patriot Way. There is no Patriot Way. If you’re winning and the coach is coaching and you believe in what that coach is doing and they’re showing you that they’re winning, there’s no problems. If you go back and think about all of the players that joined the New England Patriots, think about what type of teams they were coming from. Corey Dillon was coming from the sad Cincinnati Bengals. So sad, right? So sad. He went to a program that he knew, ‘Man, I’m getting ready to win.’ So there were no issues. Randy Moss. Sad Raiders, so sad. Then he goes to New England. No issues. Because I’m winning. I understand that this culture ain’t just selling me a bag of goods as a used car salesman. He actually knows what the hell he’s talking about. And this is what’s getting ready to happen with Cam Newton. So there’s no issues.”