Last year wasn't the most prolific season of Cam Newton's career. The former league MVP joined the New England Patriots late in the offseason during a time where the pandemic had completely halted any workouts and erased the preseason entirely, thus eliminating any sort of time for him to get his feet wet in Josh McDaniels' complex offense. While he was able to flash some potential and win the starting job, the results were largely mixed for Newton -- particularly with his consistency throwing the football -- and the Patriots finished under .500 at 7-9.
Fast forward to the present moment, however, and Newton -- who re-signed with the club on a one-year deal -- has a much more traditional offseason in front of him. Not only does he now have a summer of preparation, but Newton also has a full season of experience to lean on as he enters his second season in Foxborough. Bill Belichick has already highlighted that Newton is lightyears ahead of where he was a year ago, but the quarterback is still pushing to fully master this offense.
"I'll be the first person to tell you that there are things that I don't know yet," Newton told reporters Tuesday. "That's why OTAs are important, that's why minicamp is important, that's why training camp is important. ... We have a lot of new additions. I'm still learning just like every other quarterback is, I would expect and assume and we're just all trying to get better."
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While addressing his struggles in 2020, Newton added that he has a note on his phone that reads "Pre-snap comfort will help post-snap results," meaning that the more knowledge and familiarity that he has within the Patriots system, the better results he'll have on the field.
Of course, this offseason is a bit different for Newton for a completely different reason beyond the playbook. With the No. 15 overall pick at the 2021 NFL Draft, New England selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who is now looked at as the long-term fixture at the position. When asked if Jones' arrival changed his motivation heading into the offseason program, however, not only did Newton dismiss that idea but also gave the selection a stamp of approval.
"It didn't make me feel any type of way because he was the right pick in my opinion," he said. "He was the best player available and that's what the NFL Draft is for. As far as having any chip on the shoulder, I mean, you're stating the obvious. I don't need too much to get myself going let alone that happening and it's no disrespect to Mac, it's no disrespect to Bill and his decision. I support it 110% because you still have to do what's right for the organization for the long haul."
Newton said that Jones -- or "Mac & Cheese" as he's dubbed him -- is a quiet kid that is still trying to figure his way through his rookie season but has been impressed with his leadership and his ability to hold himself accountable this early in the process. That said, while Newton may enjoy Jones and the rest of the quarterback room that also consists of Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, he knows that each one of them is vying for the starting job, which will be won over these next few months.
"As a competitor, I'd be a fool if I didn't think Brian Hoyer wants to be a starter," Newton said. "I'd be a fool not to think that [Mac Jones] didn't want to be a starter. I'd be a fool if Jarrett Stidham didn't want to be a starter. And you'd be a fool to think that I don't want to be a starter. But those things happen with the comfort of understanding this system. ... We all know nothing is going to be given to nobody. It's just that competition each and every day with yourself is going to bring out the best in everyone else.
"The better that I am, the better Mac will be. The better Mac is, the better he's going to make me be. The better Stiddy is, and the list goes on, especially with Hoyer. Of course, he's the person who sets the tone for that room. He's been here the longest. He has so much [knowledge] and a great feel and we all learn from each other so the better off everyone is in that room, the better off we'll all be."