Cam Newton Can't Take This Abuse Much Longer
Cam Newton donned the Superman cape once more during his New England Patriots debut, throwing his football game back to the way he did things during his MVP season and making everyone remember just how great he can be when his body is healthy.
Yet, therein lies the problem: There is no way Newton can remain healthy for an entire season playing the way he did in Week 1. Hell, he grabbed his hamstring walking off the field after Sunday's game, although he denies there's anything substantial there.
While Newton might want to joke away his early injury, and while there's no denying his toughness, history suggests it won't be that easy.
The most carries Newton has had in a year is 2017 when he ran the ball 139 times for 754 yards, both career highs. In Week 1 this year, Newton ran 15 times for 75 yards. He was also sacked twice. Over a 16-game season, that projects to 240 carries for 1,200 yards rushing and 32 sacks. Obviously the Patriots don't intend for Newton to run the ball that many times, but facing that kind of punishment for even one game has already left Newton a little banged-up. Imagine him trying to sustain that over a full NFL season. It's impossible.
In his career, Newton has rushed the ball 949 times and been sacked 293 times. While that doesn't include times he was hit outside of those situations, and he wasn't hit every time he rushed the ball, 1,242 potential hits in the NFL is a lot, especially for a 31-year-old quarterback. Hell, Mike Vick ran the ball 873 times in his career, and when he was 31 years old he ran the ball only 76 times and missed three games that season.
The Patriots' new offense is clearly built around Newton. Against the Dolphins, they ran the option and designed quarterback sweeps and draws. There were QB sneaks and run-pass option plays. That's the kind of offense Newton has thrived in since college and it worked in Week 1.
But unlike when he was a young, durable player with less tread on the tires, Newton is now 10 years into his NFL career and coming off back-to-back injury-plagued seasons. To expect him to sustain this level of play in this kind of offense with this kind of exposure isn't realistic. In fact, it's career suicide.