Patriots quarterback Cam Newton has had a front-row seat to watch some of his protégés this season.
Newton’s gone head-to-head with several young, dual-threat quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen (the Patriots also faced Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, a game Newton missed due to COVID-19). Sunday marks another matchup where Newton will face a young quarterback who idolized his play when Kyler Murray and the Cardinals come to Foxborough.
Murray’s put up dazzling numbers this season, throwing for 2,644 yards and 19 touchdowns while adding 617 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, leading all quarterbacks in running touchdowns and yards.
Newton showed his respect for the young dual-threat quarterbacks he’s faced this season — plus the one he’ll face on Sunday.
“Kyler is a person who is electric,” Newton told reporters on Wednesday. “I’ve had the opportunity to see Lamar. I’ve obviously had the opportunity to play against Deshaun last week. Those guys, and Kyler this week, it’s just fun to play against a guy like that as well as knowing that the game is kind of turning to that style of quarterback who can not only attack you with the legs… but with his arm as well.”
In the midst of his impressive season, Murray is joining Newton in the record books. With his 10 rushing touchdowns, Murray has a chance to break Newton’s record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season (14). The second-year quarterback also joined Newton as the only quarterbacks with at least 6,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in their first 25 career NFL games.
While Newton holds, or is near the top of, many quarterback rushing records, he doesn’t view himself as a pioneer for dual-threat quarterbacks.
“Listen, this train was started way back when, when you had the Steve Youngs, the Warren Moons, John Elway, Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb, Kordell Stewart, to a degree, you know what I mean?” Newton said. “So I’m not gonna sit up here and be the first person to say that I am the originator of this style of play, because that’s not true. There’s been a lot of quarterbacks that played way before me that have brought an element to the quarterback position that was extremely beneficial, or heart-aching for defenses to try and figure out.”
Even if Newton doesn’t view himself as the first to do it, that hasn’t stopped his opponents from praising him in recent weeks.
“I watched Cam since Auburn. Everyone in the country did,” Lamar Jackson said prior to the Ravens’ matchup against the Patriots earlier in November. “Everyone knew about Cam – Superman – doing his thing. A lot of us looked up to him”
“Game recognize game,” Jackson later added. “He’s the O.G. – Superman.”
Watson took his turn to praise Newton before last week’s Patriots-Texans game.
“Cam is a big brother to me,” Watson said. “He’s a guy that I based my game — especially at a young age — around what he did. So, I mean, he’s just always been my favorite quarterback.”
Newton likes the admiration, but he hasn’t spent much time admiring other dual-threat quarterbacks when he’s faced them this season and won’t do that against Murray.
“It’s cool…but I still want to beat ’em,” Newton said. “I’m pretty sure they can say the same thing about me, and that’s why we play this game. It’s a mutual respect, but just like any competitors going against each other, you want to see that person do good until you play them. And then afterward, it is what it is.”