Bill Belichick has long been an admirer of the talent that Cam Newton brings to the table and knows full well about the wrath that talent can bring down upon an opposing team. He's experienced it firsthand. For his career, Newton is 2-0 against New England, while completing 71.93% of his passes for 525 yards, six touchdowns, and just one interception. The former league MVP also rushed 15 times for 106 yards and an additional score against Belichick in those two matchups. Now, after agreeing to a one-year deal to bring Newton to Foxborough, Belichick will get the chance to see that talent up close and possibly tap Newton to be the quarterback that ushers in the post-Tom Brady era in 2020.
In truth, it didn't even take both of those matchups for Belichick to fully understand and appreciate the skill that Newton possesses. Leading into their Week 4 contest during the 2017 season -- a game where Newton took the Panthers into Gillette Stadium, totaled four touchdowns and walked away with a 33-30 win -- Belichick praised his new quarterback as being one of the better mobile signal-callers in the league.
"I think when you're talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decision - I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list," Belichick said at the time. "Not saying that there aren't a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say, of all the guys we play or have played recently in the last couple of years, I would definitely put him - he's the hardest guy to deal with.
"He makes good decisions, he can run, he's strong, he's hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game down there in '13, so I would put him at the top of the list. Not saying the other guys aren't a problem, because they are, but he's public enemy No. 1."
Of course, Newton isn't exactly the spring chicken he was during his earlier days with the Panthers, thanks to a number of injuries, including a Lisfranc fracture in 2019. Still, the 31-year-old is not that far removed from making special plays with his feet.
This type of ability has been nonexistent in New England for the past two decades under center. With Tom Brady at the helm, the Patriots ran a more traditional pro-style offense that heavily featured Brady getting the ball out quick on short, intermediate routes. As they begin this new era, they'll likely move away from that approach some more in 2020.
Belichick has already stated as recently as this offseason that New England will cater the offense to whoever the quarterback is in 2020. If Newton indeed secures the starting spot on Belichick's team for this season, it will open up the playbook for the Patriots and bring the offense into the modern-day and highlight that dynamic running ability that Newton possesses along with his arm.
Instead of having to square up against "public enemy No. 1", Belichick now has the luxury to deploy it to his delight.