Did Patriots revamp their playbook for Cam Newton? Not so fast

Orlovsky: Cam will not last if he runs so much this season (1:08)

Dan Orlovsky asserts that Cam Newton cannot sustain a high number of rushing attempts and adds that New England needs to get more explosive on offense. (1:08)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Everyone assumed the New England Patriots' offense would look different with Cam Newton at quarterback instead of Tom Brady. But this different?

An eye-popping 15 quarterback runs in Sunday's 21-11 season-opening win over the Miami Dolphins. Read-option concepts. Designed running plays called 65% of the time, the highest Patriots total since 2004.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' new-look attack takes its show on the road Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC), with the playcaller sharing insight as to how things have evolved since Newton joined the team July 8.

First things first: Is this what it appears to be, a case of ripping up the old playbook and installing a completely new one?

"No," McDaniels countered. "Really, it's more of a function of what is best to do against a specific opponent that we were playing. I know we did some things that we really haven't done much of around here for a long time, maybe ever. I think that's just a function of using the players you have to the best of your ability against the opponent and scheme you're playing.

"I would say we're going to be in the same boat we always are, which is we try to adjust appropriately, change from week to week based on what we think gives us the best chance to have success."

Newton's legs were a big part of that in Week 1, and his speed sparks optimism in New England:

  • He was clocked at 19 mph on two runs, according to NFL Next Gen Stats, which was his highest mark in the past four seasons. For context, a quarterback reaching 19 mph happened three other times across the NFL in Week 1.

  • His 11-yard touchdown run was clocked at 19.2 mph, which is his fastest touchdown run in the past five seasons.

  • His average maximum speed was 12.4 mph, up from 11.8 in 2018.

Newton's 15 rushing attempts were the second highest of his pro career, and McDaniels said he was aware of the total as the game progressed. McDaniels pointed out that if read-option plays had gone to the running back -- a decision primarily dictated by the reaction of the defense -- Newton's rushing attempts could have been limited to as few as six.

Still, preserving Newton -- who said he isn't concerned with injury risk -- is part of what McDaniels must gauge.

"What's really important is that we're doing the right things -- one for the players we have out there, and obviously for the team. If we're doing things that are going to put people at risk, that's one thing you really have to consider," McDaniels said.

"I don't know that any one thing, if you do it over, over and over, is sustainable in our league. The coaches and the players each week are too good.

"I've called 60 passes, and believe me, I don't want to live in that world too long, or you're going to be in trouble. Too much of this or that, you're going to become predictable. The goal is not to put anybody in harm's way. We have a player at that position that can certainly help us, but obviously we have to be smart about what we're doing."

Coach Bill Belichick added that how the Patriots have transitioned with Newton is consistent with past years of his 21-year tenure.

"We always try to do what's best for the team to win," Belichick said. "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 you can take advantage of, then I think you try to take advantage of them."

Part of the Patriots' initial approach, it seems, was using the unpredictability of opening week -- especially with no preseason games having been played -- to spring something on the Dolphins they had never seen before. That won't work against the Seahawks, who have game tape to study.

And much like the Patriots received a spark from Newton, the Seahawks did from their new acquisition, safety Jamal Adams, in a 38-25 season-opening road win against the Atlanta Falcons. Adams tied career highs in tackles (12), tackles for a loss (3) and pressures (4) in the game, and he also had a career-high three "hustle stops," which is defined as when a defender runs 20-plus yards to make a tackle.

That might explain why McDaniels cautioned anyone who might think the Patriots will duplicate their ground-based approach on Sunday night.

"We've been a part of games where we've thrown it 65 times ... I've called over 50-something runs at different times in my career here," McDaniels said. "No matter what it is you do one week, you better be ready to handle a totally different challenge the next week."

"I would say there is probably not a greater discrepancy between two different types of defenses than the two we're playing here to start the season. I know we saw some new things. Again, [Newton's rushing is] a function of what we felt like we could do best against Miami.

"Now we're working hard to figure out what's going to be in that bucket Sunday night against Seattle."