The New England Patriots offense has changed its identity frequently over the past two decades, but each iteration still had at least one thing in common with the others: Tom Brady lining up under center. With the future Hall of Famer now in Tampa, however, the Patriots offense will have to reinvent itself around new starting quarterback Cam Newton.
How this version of New England’s attack will look like is anyone’s guess at the moment, but Newton apparently likes it that way.
During a media conference call on Friday, the 31-year-old was asked about his thoughts on the Patriots’ offense and his role within it: What excites you about what you can do in this offense? His answer said a lot, before he even started to verbalize it: Newton had a big grin on his face. His expression spoke for itself, and his answer only added to it.
“I think the most exciting thing is that nobody knows, and you’re still not going to know,” he said. “That’s what excites me the most, because everybody’s kind of having the same questions like ‘What are they going to do? Are they going to do this? Are they going to do that? Are they going to do that? Are they going to do this?’”
Newton continued that he would not be able to spill the beans just yet with the Patriots’ season opener versus the Miami Dolphins coming up on September 13 — duh! He did, however, point out that he would still be part of an ongoing learning process.
“I don’t think it’s in the best of my or the team’s interest to just reel off the things that we’re going to do that I’m most excited about. But at the same time, we have to be smart, I have to be smart, and know that it is an every-day learning process,” said Newton. “I haven’t mastered it yet. But at the same time, just having the mentaltude to continue to get better, constantly strive to understand, number one, what your flaws are, and get better at them.”
Getting better has been a recurring theme for Newton this summer as he gradually took hold of the starting quarterback position in training camp. Not even two months after his arrival in New England as a free agency pickup in early July, the long-time Carolina Panthers quarterback was therefore named the Patriots’ starter at the position and voted one of the captains by his new teammates.
Even though his status as QB1 is now semi-official — head coach Bill Belichick did still not confirm it on Friday — and his role as a team leader established, the goals remain unchanged for Newton.
“Being in the position that I’m in right now, I understand that I have a lot to prove,” Newton acknowledged. “I told the coaches as well as Coach Bill to push me. Whatever he sees fit for me to be better I want to work on it. With that being said, I know that with what I have to prove nothing will ever exceed my expectations for myself. So, once I feel as if I’m grasping something, that I go back into the bag of tricks to see which one that I haven’t mastered yet, it’s all under the same umbrella of this offense. Making things slow down for me — that consistency is needed now.”
Consistency was, of course, a key factor of why the Patriots were so successful on offense with Brady at the helm. Newton may still be trying to find it, but it is nevertheless hard not to feel at least somewhat excited by the way he talks about the unit that he is going to command.
“You just have to tune in and see,” he said.
Nine days to go.