Cam Newton, here during a virtual news conference Aug. 7,...

Cam Newton, here during a virtual news conference Aug. 7, will get to revive his career with the Patriots.   Credit: AP

The Buccaneers and Patriots don’t play each other this season, but rest assured there will be a fierce competition between the two teams.

With Tom Brady leaving the Patriots after an unparalleled 20-year career featuring six Super Bowl titles and Cam Newton joining New England after being released by the Panthers, this will be a season filled with comparisons of the two quarterbacks. And trust me, these guys will have their eyes on one another as Brady tries to resurrect the Bucs in his first year away from Bill Belichick, and Newton tries to resurrect his own career with Brady’s old coach.

At 43, it’s a new beginning for Brady, whose career continues with noted quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians. Brady didn’t have the luxury of a conventional offseason because of the coronavirus, so he’s admittedly concerned about the adjustment period, especially with his incredible attention to detail.

“Obviously for me, changing teams after a long period of time (has) given me an opportunity to really look at myself and what I want to continue to achieve in my career and think that I can bring to a team,” Brady said. “It’s been different having the opportunity over this time to move and to, for example, study my playbook. I mean I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years, so you forget, ‘Man, that’s really tough’ — like all of the different terminologies.”

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers works out during...

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers works out during a practice at AdventHealth Training Center on Aug. 4 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann

As concerned as he is with the physical preparation, it’s the mental part that presents an even higher degree of difficulty.

“You’re going back a very long time in my career to really have to put the mental energy in like I did,” he said. “I have to work at it pretty hard physically still. I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I’m feeling good in order to perform at my best, but mentally I think that’s been the thing that’s obviously had its challenges. I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation, and it became even more difficult. We’re going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another.”

Brady hasn’t come right out and said he wants to prove something to Belichick, but he doesn’t have to. For a guy who has been this competitive for this long, it’s natural for him to see if he can succeed without him. To see if the winningest quarterback in history can win a championship without the most accomplished playoff coach ever. He pushed back on the argument about whether one or the other was more important to the Patriots’ success, telling radio host Howard Stern in an April interview that he wasn’t consumed by the argument.

“I can’t do his job, and he can’t do mine,” Brady told Stern. “So the fact that you could say, ‘Would I be successful without him?’ The same level of success, I don’t believe I would have been. But I feel the same and vice versa, as well.”

Newton’s resume doesn’t include a Super Bowl championship — he did get to a title game with the Panthers, losing to Peyton Manning’s Broncos in Super Bowl L — but his chance at redemption is clearly fueling him now that he is with the Patriots. Beset by foot and shoulder injuries the last two seasons, Newton, 31, is now fully healthy and ready to show the football world he still has it. Even if he insisted publicly that he’s not consumed by how it ended with the Panthers.

“Look, I wake up mad,” Newton said Friday. “I’m not going to dwell on the past. I think I’m a person that’s a self-motivator. For me, it’s just turn the page and move forward.”

It is as perfect an opportunity for Newton as you could imagine, though. Getting a chance to work for a brilliant coach like Belichick and his trusted offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels.

“I don't think anybody’s expectations will ever surpass my expectations for myself,” Newton said. “I'm just looking forward to the challenge and knowing and picking up this whole system; not only the philosophical way of the offense, but how things are run.”

Newton calls his new team “a breath of fresh air, to be honest with you. I think I've got my hands full with trying to learn as much as I can in a short period of time and that's what I'm trying to do. I approach this day to day. Those (coaches) have been unbelievable throughout this process. Also, just leaning on guidance from the teammates, as well.”

Brady vs. Newton. It’s one of the biggest matchups of the season, even if they don’t face each other directly.

Rivera drops Guice

Washington running back Derrius Guice runs the ball during an NFL...

Washington running back Derrius Guice runs the ball during an NFL game against the Lions in Landover, Md., on Nov. 24, 2019 Credit: AP/Mark Tenally

Washington wasted little time in naming former Panthers coach Ron Rivera to lead the team, and it has been one crisis after the next for the 10th-year coach. Over the last several months, he has had to deal with allegations of sexual harassment within the organization before his arrival, the fallout over the team’s decision to change its nickname after public pressure became so intense that team owner Dan Snyder finally relented, and now another highly troubling incident.

Third-year running back Derrius Guice was arrested Friday on multiple felony counts of assault and battery in connection with a domestic abuse incident. Rivera quickly made his decision on Guice’s future with the team.

“Upon review of the nature of these charges and following internal discussions,” the team said in a statement, “we have decided to release Derrius immediately.”

Baker’s time with Giants over?

Deandre Baker of the Giants looks on after missing a...

Deandre Baker of the Giants looks on after missing a chance for an interception during the fourth quarter against the Bills at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 15, 2019. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Barring an unexpected turn of events, DeAndre Baker is done with the Giants.

The second-year cornerback was charged Friday with four counts of robbery with a firearm in connection with an incident in south Florida in May. Baker, who is currently on the commissioner’s exempt list, faces from 10 years to life in prison if convicted.

Given the seriousness of the charges, it’s highly unlikely Baker will ever play another down for the Giants, and his career could very well end.

Now the Giants must decide whether third-year general manager Dave Gettleman will pay any price for trading up to acquire the former Georgia cornerback in last year’s draft. It was a bold move up to get a third first-round pick in the 2019 draft, but it has backfired spectacularly, another questionable move for an embattled GM who admitted he was surprised he wasn’t fired after last season.

Hall rules changes to benefit these coaches

The Pro Football Hall of Fame will do things a little differently over the next four years, amending the rules to include one coach finalist to go with one seniors committee finalist and one contributor, in addition to 15 modern-day finalists. Coaches had previously been included with other finalists, meaning they had to compete against players to be selected.

The practical impact of the change will give several coaches who have been up for consideration in recent years a better shot at getting into the Hall. That includes former Packers and Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who won a Super Bowl in Green Bay and got to another with the Seahawks; two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Flores of the Raiders; former Eagles and Rams coach Dick Vermeil, who got Philadelphia to the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history and won the Rams’ first Lombardi Trophy; and former Chargers coach Don Coryell, who didn’t win any championships, but produced some of the greatest NFL offenses of all time. Two other coaches who will merit serious consideration: two-time Super Bowl winner Mike Shanahan of the Broncos and former Broncos, Giants and Falcons coach Dan Reeves, who coached in four Super Bowls.

Quote to note

It’s widely assumed that Newton will be the Patriots’ starter this season, but that won’t stop second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham from believing he has a chance to win the job over Newton and Brian Hoyer.

“Absolutely, I think I am definitely ready (to start),” Stidham said Friday. “I put in a lot of work this offseason to really improve mentally, physically, in a lot of different areas ... I'm extremely excited to compete with Cam and Hoy."


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