Cam Newton channeled his inner George R. R. Martin on Thursday as he described his ongoing effort to master the New England Patriots’ offense.
“In the famous words of a quote from ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow,’ ” a smiling Newton said Thursday in a video conference. “That’s been my mentality each and every day — just try to stay open-minded and learn as much as I possibly can.”
Saying Newton knows nothing about the Patriots’ offense would be a gross exaggeration, of course, but the 31-year-old quarterback knows he can do a better job of seeing the field through the same eyes as Josh McDaniels, New England’s longtime offensive coordinator.
“Honestly, I think what drives me is knowing that I have yet to play my best football,” Newton said. “Do I know certain things? Yes. Do you know how people are going to play you? No. And this game — I’ve always said it — it comes down to reacting. When that play is called, (from) when Josh gives the play call to that 40 seconds that you have to call the play, it really comes down to how you react faster than the defense of executing.
“Have I done it consistently? Not to my liking. But I’m getting there. It’s just a learning curve. It’s just learning each and every day.”
After showing steady improvement over a four-week span and enjoying one of his most productive games of the season in a Week 11 loss to the Houston Texans, Newton crashed back to Earth in Week 12, posting the lowest passing yards total (84) and passer rating (23.6) of his career in a narrow win over the Arizona Cardinals. That game also included his first two interceptions since Week 7.
Newton acknowledged that keeping up with McDaniels’ on-the-fly adjustments and willingness to use every page of the Patriots’ playbook has been difficult at times. Expanding that knowledge base is one of his primary focuses.
“I understand how Josh works, and it’s so unbelievable to work with him, because he makes so much in-game adjustments that you have to always stay on your P’s and Q’s,” Newton said. “You’ve (can’t) say, ‘Well, we went over that one time this week, Coach. You can’t call that.’ That’s not how Josh works. He’s all about reacting to whatever the defense gives him, and you’ve got to be ready to go and execute it at a high level.
“So with that being said, as far as adversity, as far as success, as far as what my expectation is, it never will change. I know that I don’t know enough, and there’s also a side of me where I can say I came a long way in this system. But I’m still learning, and I think that’s my carrot each and every day — to know that I’ve yet to play my best football, and I’m getting more and more comfortable, all under the graces of obviously Dolla Bill (Belichick), Mickey D’s (McDaniels) and Coach Jedi (Jedd Fisch).”
In 10 Newton starts this season, the Patriots are 5-5, with one additional loss coming while Newton was on the reserve/COVID-19 list. To have a chance of making the playoffs, they’ll likely need to win each of their final five games, beginning with Sunday’s roach matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers.