NFL Analyst Explains Why Jonnu Smith Will Be the Go-To Aerial Target for Cam Newton in 2021

Published 03/16/2021, 10:43 AM EDT
Nov 22, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) calls a play at the line of scrimmage during the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports


The New England Patriots are making moves this offseason. The 6-time Super Bowl champions with new QB Cam Newton had a campaign to forget in 2020 as they came off with a 7-9 losing record. Missing the Playoffs for the first time since 2008, the franchise is now looking to make amends.

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Going all out in free agency, the Patriots snapped up Matthew Judon, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Jalen Mills, Kendrick Bourne, and David Godchaux. Interestingly, the New England Patriots also re-signed QB Cam Newton for another season.

Thus, with Cam Newton enduring at Foxborough for at least 1 more year, the QB will have new tools to work with in the offense with TE Jonnu Smith and WRs Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. And some believe that Jonnu Smith could be Newton’s preferred aerial target for the upcoming season.

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Cam Newton gets a new preferred target

During a segment of GMFB, former NFL player turned analyst Nathaniel E. Burleson said that at first, he had his doubts over Jonnu Smith being Newton’s primary aerial target.

“All right, when this question came up, I said to myself, There’s no way. There’s no way I would give a tight end the number one pass-catching spot on any offense. You have to have a number one wide receiver.”

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Dec 10, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (middle) looks on from the sidelines with head coach Bill Belichick (right) after being replaced in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

But the former WR followed up his comment by saying that it’s something that would make perfect sense given Cam Newton’s inconsistency in passing the ball downfield.

“But then I started to think about it. If there is indeed some inconsistency with Cam Newton throwing the ball downfield. What is the best option for him to lean on?

“So we’re talking about intermediate areas, a guy who can make a 5-yard hitch 60 yards. And we’ve seen Jonnu Smith do that,” he added.

Burleson, however, admitted that his answer would’ve been different had the Patriots gone for a more accomplished WR in free agency.

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“Had they landed one of the bigger fish at the wide receiver position, then my answer would be undoubtedly no. But right now they have a couple of guys that can compliment him such as Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.

“So I feel like Jonnu Smith will be the number one target for Cam Newton,” Burleson said.

Seeing how the Patriots’ offense struggled last season, do you feel the new duo of Cam Newton and Jonnu Smith can turn the franchise’s fortunes around in this aspect?

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Shivayan Roy

555 articles

Shivayan Roy is currently an NFL writer at EssentiallySports. After completing his Masters Diploma in Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism, Roy functioned as a reporter for Goal.com and extensively covered the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

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