When Cam Newton joined New England as a free agent this summer, many wondered how the quarterback would mesh with the Patriots’ offense.
It turns out those questions weren’t entirely unfounded, and quarterback coach Jedd Fisch and Newton have both acknowledged there’s been an adjustment period early this season as the Patriots have started with a 2-4 record.
“I think the fact when you have learning curves like I’m having now, or this team so to speak, you can kind of really go in-depth and see what the issue is,” Newton said. “But yet, I think the thing for me, this offense is so advanced and so schematically driven by a specific reaction of how the defense, or what the defense is doing, and I just have to be accessible to understanding the play-caller’s purpose and being able to execute at hand — whether we went over it or not.
“(Patriots offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) does a great job with game-planning. These last two games, it’s been one after another, that I’ve been more thinking more than playing and reacting, what I pride myself on doing. He’s been great throughout this process. Jedd as well as Coach Bill (Belichick). But I do understand that type of football play is unacceptable. By no means. I’m all about putting the team in the best situation to win and that’s what I have to do moving forward.”
The question is whether Newton, who has completed 67.2% of his passes for 969 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions in five games, can be himself by “playing and reacting” within the rigid confines of a Patriots’ offense that is not easy to adapt to with a full offseason with OTAs, minicamp, training camp and preseason. Just ask the entire 2019 Miami Dolphins who eventually fired offensive coordinator — and former Patriots wide receivers coach — Chad O’Shea because the system was simply too complex for anyone to learn.
Fisch talked a little bit about that same dilemma earlier this week.
“I think what Cam has always been able to do is make the plays off schedule as much or more than some of the plays on schedule,” Fisch said Tuesday. “What we’re trying to do is have that balancing act and help him find that balancing act. And us as coaches also continue to build off his skillset and the rhythm and timing of the passing game is always going to be a little bit different when you’re playing with a guy like a Cam who has had such experience extending football plays and making plays that are off schedule.”
Newton’s timing has appeared off with some receivers this season. He’s thrown interceptions and incompletions when it seems he expected a pass-catcher to cut one way when they actually went the other direction.