For the last two decades, the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback was a man not necessarily famous for his ability to extend plays with his feet. Tom Brady had as good a feel for the pocket and for when to make subtle movements to evade pressure as any passer in league history, but he certainly did not fall under the same category as some of the NFL’s current generation of mobile QBs — most prominently the Kansas City Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, and the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
Brady’s departure and the free agency addition of former league MVP Cam Newton, however, potentially changes the equation. Newton, after all, is among the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league has ever seen and could add a different element to the Patriots’ offensive attack if he earns the starting role over Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. This, in turn, could also help the Patriots’ defense prepare for the mobile passers on its schedule such as the three named above.
“I think that comes a part of it, obviously. A guy that talented, it’s going to help us just seeing him every day in practice,” said Devin McCourty on the latest episode of the Double Coverage podcast he runs together with his twin brother and fellow Patriot Jason.
While the two defensive backs acknowledged Newton’s potential impact on the Patriots’ defensive preparations, they also pointed out that now is not the time for any potential speculation about his role in practice: the 31-year-old joined the team just two weeks ago, and has yet to carve out a role or even set foot on a practice field. As Jason said during the conversation with his brother, those questions will get answered farther down the line.
“I feel like when you start preparing for teams you do all kinds of out-of-the-box things in order to get a good look for a quarterback,” he said. “But that all dictates who’s starting, who’s doing reps with the offense, who’s the scout team quarterback. Right now, we just added a good player, but to think ‘Oh, he’ll help with Mahomes and Lamar Jackson,’ I don’t really think he was signed to prepare us to play the Chiefs or the Baltimore Ravens. That’s way down the line for something that’s not really a thought process right now.”
The Patriots are scheduled to play Mahomes, Jackson and Watson as well as other mobile quarterbacks such as the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen or the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson this year, so facing Newton in practice appears to be an added bonus for New England’s defense. As the McCourty Twins point out, however, a lot can and will happen between now and this thought actually becoming a reality during in-season preparation.
“When we’re in July, we’re not sitting here thinking about how we prepare — especially as a player; our coaches are always thinking about how we prepare for every team,” said Devin about the matter. “Player-wise, we’re not thinking of a guy like that to come in and be our top scout quarterback. I think it will help overall as a team, especially as a defense, to see him every day, but let’s not just sit here and say that we didn’t have a huge advantage seeing Tom Brady every day for the last couple of years.
“Obviously, he’s not the same as Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, but having a good quarterback to go against in practice that won’t change for us from that standpoint.”