NFL Roundtable: Newton outshines Brady in Week 1
The NFL is back, and so too is our NFL Roundtable. This week we sat down with BetAmerica Extra columnists Ashley Anderson, James Scully, and Scott Shapiro to discuss Cam Newton’s dazzling debut, the NFL’s new normal, and Mitchell Trubisky’s Week 1 triumph.
Cam Newton and Tom Brady both debuted with new teams on Sunday. Which QB will have the better individual season?
Ashley: Cam had a solid first game, but once defenses game-plan for the Patriots’ new-look, run-focused offense, I suspect New England will unravel when forced to pass. Brady looked rusty at times Sunday and struggled to get on the same page as his super team of receivers. I expect the six-time Super Bowl winner to do everything in his power to correct the mistakes he and his offense made in Week 1 and bounce back for a stellar season that will exceed Newton’s.
James: Given the difference in skill players and a more favorable schedule, Tom Brady will have the better season. Newton played well in the opener, keeping Miami off balance by running the ball, but he lacks quality receivers. Brady put up good numbers despite a couple of picks, and Tampa Bay’s offense will improve significantly as he gets on the same page with his weapons.
Scott: Tom Brady is likely to play better than he did in the Buccaneers season opener, but I expect Cam Newton to have the better individual season. Not only is the 2015 Most Valuable Player significantly younger than Brady, but he appears healthy for the first time in awhile. Look for Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to put the former Auburn Tiger star in positions to consistently succeed, much like he did in the New England 21-11 victory over Miami in Week 1.
We saw masks, witnessed empty stadiums, and heard pumped-in crowd noise during Week 1. What stood out to you most about the NFL’s new normal?
Ashley: The Chiefs vs. Texans kickoff on Thursday Night Football took some getting used to, at first. Seeing a nearly empty stadium for a regular-season game was odd, but when the cameras kept the focus tight on the field, I felt like I was watching a normal football game.
The masks on the sidelines are certainly a change — but warranted — and Andy Reid’s plastic shield was a sight to behold. By the end of the weekend, I had gotten used to the noticeable oddities and was hardly distracted by them.
James: The lack of home-field advantage stood out, with the Cowboys-Rams game seemingly being played in a neutral site because we’ve never seen the new stadium with fans. The pumped-in crowd noise also seems neutral. I thought it would be more home-team friendly, but it doesn’t appear to be any factor when watching the games.
Scott: There were a number of things that were odd about the NFL’s new normal, but it was the piped-in noise that stood out most. It will take getting used to not hearing the hometown fans going nuts after a big touchdown or a turnover, but I am just glad to have football back.
Mitchell Trubisky led Chicago to a big comeback on Sunday against Detroit. It feels weird to be writing this, but is the Bears’ much maligned QB actually good?
Ashley: I don’t put much weight in that fourth-quarter comeback. The first half, Trubisky went 8-of-20 for 110 yards, and 0-of-6 on third down in front of a completely empty Ford Field.
Trubisky turned it around in the fourth by completing 8 of 10 passes for 89 yards and three touchdowns. That was after the Lions lost Desmond Trufant and Justin Coleman to injuries, plus linebacker Jamie Collins got ejected.
The Lions owned the worst pass defense in the league last year, so it’s not like Trubisky had his work cut out for him, even before three Lions defenders left the game. This is the Trubisky we’ve known all along. I’m ready for Nick Foles to get a chance as the starter.
James: Too early to get excited about Mitchell Trubisky. He still looked like a deer in the headlights at times early in the game, and basically gave Detroit a touchdown at the end of the first half. However, his fourth-quarter performance couldn’t be any bigger for his confidence. Chicago has the personnel and schedule to win a lot of games if he plays to expectations, and the opener was a step in the right direction.
Scott: Trubisky played well down the stretch in Week 1, but I still do not believe he is a quality starting QB in the National Football League. The second overall selection in the 2017 NFL Draft was awful for most of the game against one of the league’s worst defenses. Sure, he showed some heart and determination rallying the Bears from 17 points down in Detroit, but I need see him do it far more often to believe he has turned a corner in 2020.