clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Is Jonathan Newsome worth the effort for the Chiefs?

New, comments

The former Colts LB impressed during his rookie season, but the last year has been a nightmare for Newsome.

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

The Indianapolis Colts did what they had to do when cutting ties with pass-rushing linebacker Jonathan Newsome on Monday.

After his recent marijuana arrest, Newsome had given the Colts the last reason they needed to part ways with him. The former fifth-round pick enjoyed a strong rookie campaign with 6.5 sacks, but saw his production drop precipitously in 2015. For a team sorely lacking any real pass rushing threat, Newsome's inability to develop was especially frustrating.

Yet some team is going to give Newsome another chance, since pass rushers are always a premium in the NFL. Could that team be the Chiefs? We recently asked Josh Wilson of Stampede Blue to answer a few questions about Newsome's remaining potential and the sort of team that would be a good home for a rebound campaign.

Despite the off-field issues, what would make Newsome worth the drama?

Well, his 2014 season would seem to make him worth a roster spot this offseason and the opportunity to compete in training camp. Teams will see his 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in his rookie year — plus another sack and forced fumble in the playoffs — as reason for optimism, and there will be coaches who think they can get the most out of Newsome's potential. The big question, as you alluded to, is whether that glimpse we saw in 2014 is worth the risk and drama at the moment.

What happened to Newsome on the field from his rookie year to 2015? Why the drop in production?

One of the biggest disappointments for the Indianapolis Colts in 2015m in a season filled with many of them, was Jonathan Newsome, who failed to develop and improve upon a strong rookie season like many thought he would. It's hard to pinpoint the reason for that, but I think it's helpful to go back and look at his 2014 season and realize that many probably got ahead of where Newsome actually was. A number of his pressures came when he was unblocked, so he wasn't actually as dominant as many assumed he was. Furthermore, he was the best the Colts had in terms of pass rush in 2014, so because he was their best optionm he was overhyped as well.

None of this is to suggest that he didn't still have a promising rookie year or that the 2015 struggles were expected, but it's fair to say the expectations were probably getting ahead of where Newsome actually was. Beyond that, however, it's hard to tell exactly what went wrong with Newsome, as all we saw was a player who was often invisible and not an impact in 2015 after an offseason in which many hoped he would improve.

Given his track record, do you have any reason to think Newsome can move past his issues?

I hope so, but there hasn't been a ton yet to suggest that he will. He had issues in college and they have now shown up again - police were reportedly called to his house twice in three weeks, with the second one leading to his arrest. We didn't hear anything negative about him previously during his time with the Colts, but that doesn't mean they weren't there (There has been some speculation, though nothing confirmed, that he may have already been in the drug protocol given how quickly the Colts moved on from him after this one incident, though I would suggest that the move had a lot to do with his poor play as well.) So I hope he can get things figured out, but I'm not sure there's anything that we've seen that would definitively give confidence in that happening.

If a team were to take that chance, what would be essential for that team to have in place?

I think three things are important: firstly, a strong locker room. The importance of good influences can't be overstated. Secondly, a good coaching staff. Newsome needs to be developed, as he has talent but hasn't yet realized it during his NFL career. Yes, off-the-field incidents have gotten in the way, but he wasn't good on-the-field in 2015 either. So I think a team would need to have a good coaching staff able to help Newsome develop.

Thirdly, a team would need to have other pass rushers. You just can't count on Newsome being able to be a legitimate, reliable pass rush threat at this point, so you can't really count on him being the top option. But if you put him on a team where he doesn't have a ton of pressure to produce right away (like in 2014, when he wasn't expected to and it instead was a pleasant surprise), I think that would help him as well.

Many thanks to Josh Wilson for answering our questions.