Patriots

Cam Newton offered a passionate defense of Josh McDaniels’s play-calling, admitted Patriots’ record ‘extremely frustrating’

"I've been playing this game since I was six, seven years old, and I've never cared about practice as much as I've cared about practice since I've been in New England."

Cam Newton Patriots
Cam Newton during the Patriots' loss to the Rams. AP Photo/Ashley Landis

Cam Newton is on a one-year contract with the Patriots that he signed in July. With the team currently 6-7, and with playoff hopes looking increasingly desperate, Newton’s future with New England beyond 2020 remains up in the air.

The 31-year-old — who reportedly sold his former home in Carolina to new NBA draft pick LaMelo Ball — is not currently looking at real estate in New England.

During his weekly interview on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” Newton was asked if he’s shopped for homes in the area.

“Not at this particular moment, I have not,” said Newton.

The 2020 season has been a struggle for the former NFL MVP, who has thrown just five touchdowns against 10 interceptions. Conversely, one of Newton’s strengths this season has been running the football, particularly near the goal line (where he has totaled 11 rushing touchdowns in 12 games).

Still, the tried and tested approach of running the ball in the red zone failed New England in the 24-3 loss to the Rams last Thursday. In one sequence during the second quarter, the Patriots rushed four straight times inside the 10-yard line, but failed to pick up a first down and turned the ball over on downs to the Rams.

Former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins, now a frequent contributor on the WEEI show, noted that offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’s play-calling inside the five-yard line has been “frustrating” for him. Asked about his thoughts on the matter, Newton had a direct response.

“One thing that’s not about to happen, and let me be perfectly clear: You’re not about to create any type of division between me and Josh McDaniels,” Newton began. “You’re talking to a person who number one, respects his opportunity first and foremost. That’s talking from coach Bill Belichick, and regards Josh McDaniels obviously, Robert Kraft and even Jedd [Fisch]. It would be selfish of me to kind of indirectly point the finger when here is a person who is putting our team in the best situations to win.

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“For the most part, me and Josh’s relationship has grown obviously while I’ve been here,” Newton continued. “And for me to know him and know how his theory and thinking is, it’s been just something that I’ve even attached myself [to] even more. And he’s a very passionate person who I would never second-guess his theory, no matter what it is.”

Newton elaborated on the relationship between the players and coaches in terms of play-calling.

“There have been times as a player, you kind of bail your coach out because of the plays that you may make, but more times than not, Josh has bailed the whole team out because of his theory and his in-game adjustments,” said Newton. “So it’s give and take. Going back to Thursday, there are a lot of fingers — you don’t have enough hands to go around to point the fingers of blame.”

Admitting that it’s “fair” that “a lot of blame goes to me,” the Patriots’ quarterback reiterated that despite disappointing results, he won’t place blame solely on the shoulders of McDaniels.

“You’ve got guys in this locker room, including myself, that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win a football game, and when you don’t get the outcome that you’re desperately searching for, yeah it hurts, yeah you take it personal, yeah you need time to kind of debrief,” Newton explained. “But for me to sit up here and throw a person that I admire in Josh, for us to say he should’ve called four passes, no I’m not going to do that.

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“I know he wants to put this team in the best situation to win, and that’s the only thing you can ask for,” Newton added.

Later in the interview, Newton stressed that the team has been trying to do anything that can be done to turn things around.

He tried to place the circumstances in perspective beyond football.

“There are a lot of things that are being said, and I do not want the thought or theory that there hasn’t been this must-win attitude since Week 6,” said Newton. “Yeah we’ve come up short, we’ve done things that we know we shouldn’t have done, but you still cannot negate the fact that guys are busting their tails with preparation week in and week out, doing things, going over and beyond. We’re just not getting the results that we’re needing. That’s life. What happens when you study so hard for an exam and you don’t get the grade that you’re searching for, or X, Y, Z.”

On a personal level, the former No. 1 overall draft pick — who is in his first season with the Patriots after spending the previous nine with the Panthers — offered that his attention to detail has never been greater despite the team’s inconsistency.

“My practice habits this year have been more intensified than any other time in my life,” Newton asserted. “I’ve been playing this game since I was six, seven years old, and I’ve never cared about practice as much as I’ve cared about practice since I’ve been in New England. You can’t say just because you don’t practice good doesn’t mean you don’t play good, because that hasn’t been the case. My practice habits have increased from watching film to caring about each and every rep, to working out, taking all the things that you have to do on and off the field from nutrition to rehab to everything else.

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“For our record to be 6-7 right now, yes, it’s extremely frustrating,” Newton acknowledged. “But with three games left in the fold, what am I going to stop my preparation? No, if anything else you’re going to try to do other things to try to find ways to grit and grind to win out. What I do know about this franchise, and this city and the expectations is that’s the way you do it. You just have to find ways to win and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

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