By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The renaissance of Cam Newton has been a breath of fresh air in the football world. Looking as healthy and dangerous as he has in years, Newton has breathed life into the entire Patriots organization, and he’s receiving all sorts of praise from every possible angle as a result.
But if there was any fear of Newton perhaps buying in to his own hype, the quarterback made it as clear as possible on Thursday that that is simply not the case.
“We’re in Week 2. This is the NFL. We’re 1-1,” Newton said when asked if he’s noticed some extra hype or support surrounding him or the Patriots. “I wouldn’t be, you know, overly jolly about our record or where we stand right now. And that’s just honest. Now, anything else? That’s irrelevant, because it didn’t help us win. … Whether you’re talking getting people’s attention or whatever, the expectation hasn’t even scratched the surface of — as a team — what we’re capable of doing, as well as personally myself. So I don’t necessarily get caught up in trying to meet other people’s requirements, or validation, so to speak, when I know I have my hands full trying to be as comfortable as possible, and being as accessible to this team as I need be.”
Newton has been excellent, completing over 71 percent of his passes for 552 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 122 yards and four touchdowns in two games.
Yet when told about his solid numbers thus far, Newton wasn’t amused.
“Yeah. That’s cute,” Newton said. “But we want to win.”
Given all of the positive praise thrown upon the team after Sunday night’s loss in Seattle, one could easily forget that the team did, in fact, lose. Newton, though, says there’s been no mistaking that reality while at work this week.
“I mean, there wasn’t a lot of smiling going on,” Newton said. “Still, not a lot of smiling going on.”
Newton emphasized yet again that he’s solely focused on doing what he can to lead the team to victories.
“That’s the most important statistic in sports,” Newton said of wins. “And you know, who cares about QBR, who cares about total tackles, who cares about yards after catch, who cares about catches, who cares about yards thrown, who cares about yards rushed, who cares how many touchdowns you threw, ran, or interceptions you’ve got, or whatever? From youth league, rec ball football to high school to college to anything that requires you keeping score, the most important statistic is, did you win or did you lose?” Newton said. “There’s no moral victories, I mean, what did people expect? Like honestly — like what did you expect? So we expect to compete to win, not just to compete in each and every game We’re coached that way, we practice that way, we attack each day that way. So yeah, are people ticked off around here? Absolutely. But yet, Las Vegas, they don’t care about that. So we just got to make sure we stay professional, stay on our track to make sure that you know that hell or high water, come 4 or 5 o’clock on Sunday, we’re in a better position than we was at midnight on Sunday night this past Sunday.”
Another topic that’s swirled about on talk shows and columns — locally and nationally — this week has been Newton’s contract. He’s still on that one-year deal for a minimal salary, something he’s pretty much already outperformed. But Newton once again imitated his Heisman Trophy when asked directly about his thoughts at the moment about his contract situation.
“My focus is short term, and that has a lot to do with the Las Vegas Raiders,” Newton said. “And I understand where we’re trying to go and understand the questions that you’re asking, but I’m gonna say it again: That’s not my focus. If that would have been the case I would have did more, I would have said more, I would have waited more, I would’ve negotiated — like, that’s irrelevant. You know what I’m saying? Like for me right now, it’s all about winning. Like let’s get back to that. Like we got too many people worried about chasing the bag. Like, the bag — if you do what you’re supposed to do, everything else is gonna take care of itself. So for right now my main focus is trying to make sure that I am the best quarterback for the New England Patriots as I could possibly be. And that’s where my head has been and that’s where it’s gonna stay. And my focus, just knowing that I can’t allow anything to distract me. The facts about things are, we are 1-1. Another fact is we lost a game that we are well-capable of winning. And we had opportunity on the 1-yard line. Yes. So my main focus now is how if put in that same position here on Sunday, how can I change that narrative, so to speak? And that’s pretty much what it is.”
As always, words remain just that: words. But from the first moment he signed with the Patriots, Newton has backed up everything he’s said by putting in the work, focusing on what needed his focus, listening to his coaches and building relationships with his teammates. Given everything that he said on Thursday afternoon, there’s every reason to believe he’s not letting two strong individual performances veer him off course.