Football and comic book fans unite! With all due respect to Avengers: Infinity War, this is sure to be the crossover event of the year.
Cam Newton’s nickname is Superman, right? There are times it seems he can do it all and save the day. And then there days like Sunday, Oct. 18 vs. the Broncos where Superman seems all too human, his mortality on display when his team needs a super-heroic effort.
His Kryptonite, thus far? Could be the pandemic, which cost him a game and, like many of his teammates, multiple practices. Could be injuries to his teammates which, like the COVID crisis, also force valuable assets to miss time. Or it could be the supporting cast he’s surrounded by. In comic lore Superman is a member of The Justice League, featuring the likes of Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman and more.
But with the way members of the Pats offense are playing this season Supercam seems to be a member of The Injustice League.
Now this is not to say that Newton is playing at such a high level that he’s being dragged down by his offensive arsenal (we’re not calling them weapons or “wEaPoNz” here, all set, check please). In fact, at time of writing, he’s started only four games on the season and 32 other quarterbacks have more touchdown passes than Newton, who has thrown two and run for six.
Still, it’s clear to anyone watching that while imperfect, Newton is the superior playmaking talent on the Pats offense. You don’t just get a nickname like Superman because you’re a slovenly disaster. And while he may try, he can’t be the offense all by himself.
Enter an equally powerful yet different character from a competing comic book universe.
Bill Belichick has many nicknames, most notable “Dolla Dolla Bill” from none other than Newton, but for our intent and purposes in this geeked out gridiron fantasia, he’s Professor X, the leader of The X-Men.
Many will balk, saying they see Belichick as more of a comic book supervillain. as he’s also often compared to Emperor Palpatine from “Star Wars”, and rightly so. But to complement his multi-talented QB we’ll need him to embrace the role of a genius who can see the future, connect to almost any mind, identify and subsequently develop freakish talents. He’s older, wiser, more fragile and often the key to saving the world. And if we’re going to get really nerd deep we’ll say that Ernie Adams is his Cerebro.
Now, how could Newton and Belichick, these two galactic forces collaborate successfully without egos clashing or mutually assured destruction? Simple. Bill as Professor X needs to use his powers, in this case those of identifying talent and coaching it up so that it excels on its own, to bolster the ranks for Newton, AKA Supercam, so he can lead a team and save the day. Right now, Supercam has a mod squad of heroes and zeroes (not the people but the stats they’re putting up) that won’t get the job done.
For example, Julian Edelman said he couldn’t wait to play Batman alongside Cam’s Superman. The problem is Edelman is more like Logan, the older version of Wolverine, the invincible X-Man with razor claws, at this point in his career. He’s still a fighter and he’ll give you everything he’s got. But it takes a long time for him to heal and he’s not what he once was, even though the mind, heart and will to fight are stronger than ever.
Time for Professor X to find, develop and recruit help ASAP.
We’ve made the case time and again, from radio to print, social media and beyond, that the Patriots need to trade for receiving talent. Be it a tight end or especially wide receiver, someone who can get open, make plays when Newton needs him, and alleviate the burden of the other receivers who are more supporting cast than leaders. And while Zach Ertz, a top trade desire, is out for a few weeks, there are still receivers aplenty around the league who Belichick could target to help open things up for. stagnant passing attack. Houston’s speedy Will Fuller, for example, coming in to be The Flash would be a lot more exciting than The Misadventures of Dough Boy. Plus we know Logan, aka Edelman, just can’t do it himself. I know Supercam loves him some Harry, but it’s getting tough to watch The Man of N’Keal struggle time and again.
After you go outside, the development from within needs to be accelerated. Maybe Supercam is right. Maybe the answers are in the locker room and he just needs to be better. Make sharper, more concise decisions. Get more people involved. We know the limits of Edelman and Dough Boy. Maybe Professor X needs to rip the training wheels off with the rookie tight ends, especially Devin Asiasi. This casts no aspersions on the likes of Ryan Izzo, who’s trying his best, but it’s tough to ask a butterknife to cut sushi, if you know what I mean.
Asiasi, who displayed hands, speed and ability galore at college, could be a beast, let’s say Beast from X-Men lore; young, smart, ferocious and agile. Though his learning curve has most certainly been beset by the pandemic, his raw athletic talents are real. And despite some on-the-job learning, the offense can ill afford to cast this essential position to aside any further, especially with his potential. Let’s see what he can do! Besides, it’s not like he’s not getting open ...
Or maybe let Dalton Keene play and see if he has any yard-gaining or touchdown making abilities at the pro level. Perhaps utilize the tantalizing speed and all out effort we have seen from Isaiah Zuber? He’s quick and comes with superhero friendly nicknames aplenty, like Z-Man or Super Zuber (regionally pronounced Supah Zoobah). While a nice player you can’t expect Byrdman (he came from Arizona with his own superhero nickname) to be the focal point of your passing attack, can you?. Yes, we know Coach Belichick and Co. know more than we do and make all their decisions based on what’s best for the team, blah blah, we get it. But we might have to start working with some fantasy-based options to make the Patriots offensive reality a bit more dynamic.
Belichick and McDaniels have already shown a willingness to change personnel and get creative on both sides of the ball this season, especially with the running backs, mostly to the team’s benefit. And while there’s no Juggernaut (Derrick Henry) among their ranks there certainly seems enough talent on the ground to compliment a functional aerial attack.
No doubt Belichick and Newton are heroes in their own locker room, not to mention millions of fans. Hence why it’s time to merge universes and make for the best real, not fantasy, football team possible. Without taking chances and finding others to help them maximize their own powers, Professor X and Superman might find themselves a grumpy Bill and well-dressed Cam in a stale reality watching everyone else have all the fantastical postseason fun.