Cam Newton has experienced a lot in his 10 NFL seasons, but he’s smart enough to know what he doesn’t know.
In the eyes of New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, Newton’s self-awareness and open-mindedness are two of the quarterback’s most impressive attributes.
Two days after the Patriots beat the Las Vegas Raiders to improve to 2-1 on the season, McDaniels raved about his new starting QB’s willingness to take coaching as Newton continues to learn the nuances on New England’s offense.
“I have been super impressed with his humility,” McDaniels said. “This guy has accomplished a lot in his career. Being 10 years in the league and doing all the things he has done, coming here and having no familiarity with our coaching style, our system, or the way we do things, I have been incredibly impressed with the way he’s embraced it, looks forward to it, really wants to be coached, wants to be great, wants to improve and is a great example for a lot of our younger players.
“I feel very comfortable coaching him, whether it is practice, meetings, games, walkthroughs because he is such a great listener and he takes nothing personal, which, really, there’s no part of coaching that is personal. It’s just about trying to correct and improve. He’s really done a nice job.”
McDaniels has altered his scheme to maximize Newton’s skill set, implementing new option plays and designed QB runs that weren’t feasible during Tom Brady’s tenure. It hasn’t been a full-blown overhaul, though. McDaniels said there’s “certainly a huge chunk of what we’ve been able to try and do in the past that we continue to try and do.”
Against the Raiders, for instance, the Patriots ran just four read-option plays. Much of their offensive success came on traditional handoffs, and Newton — who led the team in rushing the previous two weeks — accounted for just 27 of their 250 rushing yards, 21 of which came on a fourth-quarter scramble. Newton also had his shakiest passing performance of the season, and the Patriots still won with relative ease.
Newton said the Patriots’ shifting offensive identity will put defenses “in fits” this season. New England rushed for 200-plus yards in Weeks 1 and 3 and threw for more than 400 in Week 2.
“I have really enjoyed the process with him because he prepares so hard,” McDaniels said. “We run a lot of plays that have nothing to do with deception or tricking the defense or anything like that. It’s just fundamentals and execution. Cam is adamant about wanting to do his job really well in those areas just as he is if I asked him to run the ball, or throw it deep, or do something else. You try to maximize their strengths each week, and at the same time, we’re not done learning. …
“I look forward to every day I get to coach him and he obviously reciprocates that with his effort and the time he spends trying to prepare himself for the game.”