Few people worked as closely with Cam Newton during the 2020 season as Jedd Fisch. Serving as the New England Patriots’ quarterbacks coach until his departure to the University of Arizona in December, Fisch was responsible for getting Newton up to speed in his first year as the team’s new starting quarterback.
The eventual results may have been underwhelming, but Fisch still had only good things to say about Newton during a recent appearance on NFL Network.
“Cam was phenomenal,” he said when asked to recap their season together. “You are talking about a guy that came in there and just showed up there in the middle — July 27th or July 28th was the first time we even got to meet — and then be able to start right away, and learning a playbook that he had to learn from scratch with no real experience in our system. He was phenomenal.”
Newton joined the Patriots three months after getting released from the Carolina Panthers, and entered a three-player competition for the starting quarterback job alongside Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Despite the two having more experience in the system, Newton quickly established himself as the front runner and was named the starter ahead of the season opener against the Miami Dolphins.
That game was a promising first outing, with the veteran quarterback looking comfortable as both a thrower and a runner: leading New England to a 21-11 win, he completed 15 of 19 pass attempts for 155 yards and also attempted 14 runs for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Similarly encouraging performances would follow the next two weeks against the Seattle Seahawks and Las Vegas Raiders.
“His work ethic was second to none, and really everything started off how we would have wanted it to start off,” said Fisch about the early portion of Newton’s first season as a Patriot. “We were very efficient against Miami on opening day, had an unbelievable Sunday Night game against Seattle, and then the Raider game.
“Unfortunately, after that he got Covid and it took away a couple of weeks. But he battled back, ended the season strong, and I know that good things are going to come for Cam in the future.”
Newton’s Coronavirus diagnosis, in combination with a supporting cast that failed to show much improvement as the year went along, led to him finish the season as one of the statistically worst quarterbacks in football. While his rushing performance was impressive — he carried the football 127 times for 602 yards as well as 12 touchdowns — he struggled throwing the football.
The former first overall draft pick did complete 242 of 368 pass attempts for a rate of 65.8 percent, but he only gained 2,657 yards through the air while throwing a mere 8 touchdowns compared to 10 interceptions.
And yet, his former quarterbacks coach is confident in his ability to improve should he get another chance with the Patriots. Fisch would like to see the impending free agent re-sign in New England, calling it the “best opportunity” the veteran would be able to get.
“I think for Cam, the best opportunity for him would be able to continue to be in that situation, of course,” he said. “I don’t know all the details of where it’s at with him or with the team, but I know that he really spent a full year learning and digesting an offense. Nobody wants to spend another year learning and digesting a different offense. So, for him, an opportunity would be great. I’m sure he worked as hard as he possibly could at it, and I hope something great happens for him.”
Newton himself recently stated that he would be open to returning to the Patriots even if offered another one-year contract.
Jedd Fisch, meanwhile, is not the first person with a close connection to Newton advocating for him to stay in New England: Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry recently said that he would “absolutely love” to see the 31-year-old sign another deal with the organization.