At the same time, the Cam Newton era in New England couldn’t have gone a whole lot better (chain-snatching incident aside).
The Buccaneers lost to perennial playoff team the Saints 34 to 23 with Brady completing 23 of 36 passes for 239 yards, two touchdowns passing, one rushing, and two interceptions, including a very Jameis Winston-like pick-six (who also now happens to be on the Saints).
Newton and the Pats, on the other hand, won their season opener 21 to 11 against the perennial doormat Miami Dolphins with Cam going 15 of 19 for 155 yards with two rushing touchdowns and 75 yards on the ground.
On Monday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered some comments about playing the first game in 20 years without having Brady as a member of the squad.
“We always try to do what’s best for the team to win,” Belichick told the media. “Everything we’ve done for the last 20 years, and rightfully so, has been for Tom Brady. It was for Tom Brady. Everything was dedicated to him, other than the games that he didn’t play in, like when [Matt] Cassel played or Jimmy [Garoppolo] and then Jacoby [Brissett] when Brady was suspended. So there were times when we had to plan differently, but when your starting quarterback has things that he’s good at or things that you can take advantage of, then I think you try to take advantage of them.”
So was he happy with what Newton brought to the table, running the ball 15 times, on Sunday?
“Well, some of those runs were option-type runs, so we don’t know who’s going to get the ball,” said Belichick. “It depends on how the defense plays. It’s not like handing the ball off to the halfback and running up the middle. When you run plays that have some type of an option to them, you don’t know for sure who’s going to get the ball. That’s just an unpredictable part of that play. It’s like running a pass play. Unless it’s a screen pass, when you drop back and throw the ball, you don’t know which receiver you’re throwing to. It depends on the coverage and the matchup that you get. So, it’s the same thing on an option-type run. The quarterback could keep it or the quarterback could hand it off. It really depends on how the defense defends the play.
“So I think those numbers are, with all due respect, I think they’re a little bit skewed. If they play it a certain way, they could put the ball in whoever’s hands they wanted to if they really want to declare who’s going to get the ball. So, we’ll see how teams play us going forward on those type of plays. If we run those again — I don’t know — we’ll do what’s best each week based on the team that we’re playing and how we feel like we can attack them.”
On the flip side, what was Newton’s take on his first game working with The Hoodie?
“I think the thing that people must know: He makes even the smartest players more cerebral, and with that being said, we go over situational football each and every single day,” said Newton. “There’s no point in time where he cannot stop something and teach you something.
“He is the ultimate teacher and I just respect that. I just feel as if — you know, I didn’t know what to expect coming in here, you hear stories — and I just am blown away by his professionalism to adapt on the run.”