Theismann: Bills Still The Favorite In The AFC East

Joe Theismann believes the Patriots made "a good move" in signing Cam Newton, but he still thinks the Buffalo Bills are the team to beat in the AFC East

Zach Gelb
July 02, 2020 - 11:35 am
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As Bill Belichick transitions from one MVP quarterback to the next, the New England Patriots, with Cam Newton, will likely contend for yet another AFC East title, a division they have won in 16 of the last 17 seasons, including 11 straight.

Former MVP Joe Theismann, however, doesn’t see the streak reaching 12.

“I probably still would go with Buffalo,” Theismann said on The Zach Gelb Show. “They were a darn good football team. Josh [Allen] has progressed extremely well. When he came out, he was more of a hard thrower. He’s developed into a more polished quarterback now. Cam will not and has not had an opportunity to really work in the system in New England, so everybody there is going to be trying to play catch up. I think in Cam’s case, there’s no question he’ll get there. It’s just a question of what the time frame is going to be to give him a chance to get up to speed to where he needs to be able to be to run this offense the way they want it.”

Theismann, a former NFL MVP and Super Bowl champion, believes the Patriots made “a good move” in signing the 31-year-old Newton, especially given the state of their quarterback room.

“When you look at the New England Patriots, they don’t have a lot of veteran leadership at the quarterback position,” he said. “Tom was there for so long. You talk about [having to fill] big shoes? Holy mackerel. I think Cam was a good choice for them. It’s a good fit for him with an opportunity to be able to get himself going again. [The last two seasons] were tough years physically on him. Now he seems to be ready to go. I think it’s an excellent fit.”

Newton spent nine seasons in Carolina, completing 59.6 percent of his passes for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions. He also ran for 4,806 yards and a quarterback-record 58 touchdowns. 

“He comes out of a system in Carolina where there was a lot of focus on the tight ends and Christian [McCaffrey] and the middle of the football field,” Theismann said. “That’s a lot of what New England [does]. I don’t expect [him] to be that guy that’s going to take off and run a lot like he used to in his younger years. I think he’s gotten smarter with the way he wants to play the game. He understands that he can’t take that physical abuse all the time, which I think will make him a more efficient quarterback out of the pocket.”

While Newton could still play at a high level, the Patriots likely won’t rely on him to win games week in and week out.

“It’s going to be a total football package,” Theismann said. “It’s going to be special teams. It’s going to be defense. They’re not going to just sit there and wait toward the end of a game and say, ‘Don’t worry about it. Tom’s going to pull it out.’ I think it will be an entire team that’s going to have to play together for them to be successful.”