Bills coach Sean McDermott on Cam Newton: ‘We know full well what he’s capable of’

“He’s certainly a great player and I think people don’t know who he is off the field."

Cam Newton
Cam Newton during the Patriots' loss to the 49ers. –Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff

Bills head coach Sean McDermott and Patriots quarterback Cam Newton have faced off numerous times over the years. However, Sunday will be just the second time the two will go up against each other in an NFL game.

The two were together in Carolina from 2011-16. Newton was obviously the team’s quarterback and McDermott was the team’s defensive coordinator, pitting them against each other on the practice field week-in and week-out.

While Newton and McDermott worked on separate units in Carolina, the pair got to know each other well over their six years together.

“He’s certainly a great player and I think people don’t know who he is off the field and they always wonder,” McDermott told reporters Wednesday. “Cam and I, our relationship goes back a long time and he is a real joy to be around and a pleasure of a man just in terms of the way he handles himself with all the attention he’s gotten over the years. He was always very respectful and kind to me and my family and I’ll never forget that.”

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During their time together, the Panthers saw some success. They made the playoffs three times and made the Super Bowl in 2015, where they lost to the Broncos. In that same season, Newton won the league’s MVP.

When news came over the summer that Newton signed a deal with the Patriots, McDermott thought the team made a good move.

“I thought it would be a good marriage,” McDermott said. “Cam has been to the promised land in terms of what we can accomplish in this business and in terms of his level of play. With the coaching staff they have there, I figured it would be a very good marriage.”

Newton isn’t the only member of the Patriots offense that McDermott respects. He tipped his cap to the team’s coaching staff, specifically offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and believes New England has a creative offense.

“They’re well-coached, starting with Josh McDaniels,” McDermott said. “I have a lot of respect for Josh and what he’s done over the years and his body of work. They’ve shown an ability to run the ball, they’ve shown an ability to throw the ball. Certainly, Cam’s been involved in both. Cam’s a dynamic player … he gets the ball to his weapons. So, they’re a challenge to handle because of all the different things they do in the screen game and the gadgets, as well.”

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McDermott’s praise of the Patriots and Newton comes while the team has severely struggled on offense in recent weeks. Newton has thrown for just 255 passing yards and five interceptions over their last two games, leading the team to a combined 18 points over that span.

The marriage between Newton and the Patriots may be rocky, but McDermott is still preparing for Newton’s best come Sunday.

“He’s a good player, we have a lot of respect for him and he’s the former MVP of the league for a reason,” McDermott said. “We know full well what he’s capable of.”

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