So far, this is the Cam Newton I was hoping for when the Patriots first signed him back at the end of June. The best Cam scenario. Sir Ideal Newton. His hat game has never been better. And neither has his approach to the game. By all accounts he's the first one at the stadium every day. And talk about his "energy" has become one of those cliches you're almost contractually obligated to mention. Or as one member of the Pats' 3 Ring Club put it:
And today brought another opportunity for the press to cyber meet with him and get his perspective on how he's progressing. And his answers were bourbon for a Pats fan's soul.
Asked about if he considers himself the Patriots starting quarterback he had this to say:
“Absolutely not. Every day is a workday for me, and that label is not important to me right now because I know I have so much that I need to get better at, so much that I need to learn, so much that I need to be comfortable with. And throughout this process, that’s the last thing that I’m pretty much worried about. Knowing that there are certain things when I come to the line of scrimmage and it’s just not as firing, mentally, as I would want it to be, rather than other plays that may be called. I see a person like Hoyster go to the line, and he’s just as sharp as it can be. From me asking him questions and he answered them and Stiddy and things like that, there’s things that I know I need to be become better at. And until I get those things done, everything else is irrelevant.”
He was then asked about working with Josh McDaniels and QB coach Jedd Fisch to pick up the offense:
“It’s been therapeutic for me. Just knowing that these guys have been as patient throughout this process (as) I would have wanted them to be. Obviously, learning a 20-year installment of plays, all in a short time span, has been challenging. But yet, I think it would have been more challenging if you didn’t have the tutelage of a Jedd, the tutelage of a Coach Josh and Jedd, and even the other quarterbacks. (Brian) Lewerke’s helped me. Stiddy has helped me. Hoyster has helped me. Receivers have helped me. It’s just been going back and forth. And obviously, there’s been some things that haven’t been implemented before with me at the quarterback position. At times, there is a dissertation, so to speak, of, ‘This is how we’re expecting it to be.’ OK, now Cam — they flip it and say, ‘Well, how are you expecting it to be?’ And I’ll say the same thing when we’re in quarterback meetings. And obviously, with this being my first year in this offense as well as Coach Fisch’s, those things are something that we always ask Stiddy and Hoyster and see what it’s been like for them in those reads. So it’s just a reciprocated attitude from learning. It isn’t just isn’t a one-way street. You know we all learn from each other, and I think that’s the thing that puts me at ease.”
He didn't shy away from speaking frankly about real world problems:
And he talked about how he lifted Lebron James' handshake thing and is using it to bond with teammates:
“You know, everybody’s different. One handshake for one person kind of speaks to the relationship that you may have to that specific person. And I’m just gonna be honest with you, I kind of bit off somebody else’s swag with LeBron (James). I saw LeBron years ago have different handshakes for every single person on the roster. And I was like, ‘Man, that’s pretty cool.’ But as I began to do that, I started realizing how my relationship with that person — certain handshakes just morph off of you know how you particularly know that person. So it’s just been so fun, and obviously for the guy to get to know me and understand my energy level and knowing that it takes one time to do it in another time to not do it that somebody is going to say, ‘Hey man, don’t forget my handshake.’ We all have indirect and direct ways to hold each other accountable, and it keeps you locked in practices so we can keep everybody’s energy level at an all-time high.”
While cryptically not explaining why he calls N'Keal Harry "Doughboy":
“It comes from the character Pillsbury Doughboy. That a specific brand that used for caking, and rest is history. So instead of calling him Pillsbury Doughboy just cut it off at Doughboy.”
Is that suggesting Harry is soft?
“Absolutely not. It’s more or less about him and his off the field, you know, prowess rather than on on the field.
OK, I'll admit I don't get that. But as Michael Scott put it, "I love inside jokes. I hope to be a part of one someday."
The important takeaways are that this is a guy who is staying humble and hungry. He acknowledges nothing will be given to him, he's got to earn every bit of it through hard work. Which he's doing. He's open and honest about the challenges of learning a new system and offering insight into how it's all being communicated back and forth in the positional meetings. There are new wrinkles being added to the offense specifically to take advantage of his skills. He's addressing off field problems in the world with candor. And he's assimilated into his new team and is finding ways to gel with his teammates, even the youngest ones, and build that mutual trust that is fundamental in a long season that will be full of challenges.
This is exactly how I hoped Newton would work out here with a couple of weeks to go before football begins. From the bottom of his cleats to the top of his very chic designer cowboy hat. Ordinarily I'd say I can't wait for kickoff. But the time from now til then can be best spent getting him all the dissertations, handshakes and nicknames he needs. But so far, so perfect.