Ahead of Week 1’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins, Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been impressed so far by the work ethic, energy, and leadership of quarterback Cam Newton.
“His attitude’s been great. It’s been a fun process. He brings a lot of energy. There’s never a dull moment and you can see why the players gravitate so much towards him. His personality lends itself to that whether it’s in the meeting room, on the practice field, in the locker room, etc. He’s done a really good job.”
While they’ve only spent a short amount of time together due to an unconventional training camp, McDaniels is confident in Newton.
“We have a long way to go in terms of hopefully where we’ll ultimately be in terms of growth and understanding the totality of what we may be able to become on offense, but I think there’s nothing more I could have asked him to do in the four or five weeks that we’ve been working together to try to grasp his responsibility and our offense at the quarterback position.”
For McDaniels, developing a relationship with any player, especially the quarterback, is important. He’s kept an open-mind while coaching Newton.
“I would also say the right thing to do, in my opinion, is to go into any kind of relationship like that with an open mind,” McDaniels I’ve learned as much as I’ve taught about him, what he’s been taught, the things that he understands and knows. It’s always important for me to listen to a player explain their perspective on things. I’ve done that with many people in the past.
“It’s really a two-way street when it comes to getting to know one another and getting ready to embark on playing together, coaching him, him playing for us. I wouldn’t say I went into it with, ‘I think he can do these things and not those things.’ I don’t usually do any of that. I just kind of go into it with an open mind, allow the players to have opportunities to do a lot of different things and then try to evaluate what we’re seeing as well as talk to them and communicate constantly about how they feel about it.″
In order to get an idea of how Newton competes, McDaniels said that he studied Newton’s tapes “extensively” while the team was in the process of signing him back in June. Newton, an athletic quarterback who once called his running game his “edge”, does have a history of injury and suffered a foot injury against the Patriots last pre-season.
Could that become a potential challenge for the Patriots?
“That’s a great question,” McDaniels said when asked about balancing Newton’s running game with long-standing health. “We’ve never had that question needed to be answered. We’ll be smart with a lot of those different things, especially early in the season. We’ve talked about this a lot with our team: we don’t have a player on our roster right now that’s played a 7o-play game [or] 40-play preseason game, so, depending on what the weather is early and all the rest of it, I think our team could go through the same thing.
In terms of trying to use our depth, I would hope that everybody who is active is going to participate and contribute in terms of protecting ourselves as the game moves along.”
McDaniels added that Newton is good at communicating where he’s at physically.
“In Cam’s case, he’s very good in terms of communication about where he’s at, his body and those types of things. I’m sure that we’ll do a good job of monitoring that along with the rest of our guys as we head into the year.”
As for what the Patriots are anticipating from the Dolphins, McDaniels stressed that anything could go. The team has been preparing players for “different scenarios and situations.”
“When we did have a preseason, there was still a lot of anxiety and unknowns that you were dealing with, relative to what you may or may not see, where players may or may not line up, who may or may not be playing across from you — which I know our players are prepared for a lot of different scenarios and situations, as we are.”
Both teams, especially this year [and] across the league, are going to have the same opportunity to unveil something that we haven’t seen from the other team. I think that’s why our focus usually has always been on opening day, to try to do things that we have confidence in [and] that we know how to adjust out, that if we get a different look our system is not going to break down with the things we’re going to try to do.”
With that, he also welcomes any player’s input in terms of preparing for an opponent, including Newton:
“We’ve always been open-minded with that concept — if the quarterback doesn’t feel comfortable with something, than generally we don’t do it,” he said. “It’s not his responsibility to come up with the way we should approach each game, but certainly if he feels a certain way about certain things, good or bad, than that information is very critical to our preparation and what we want to ultimately do on Sunday.”
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