BOSTON (CBS) — With last week’s game coming on a Thursday night in Los Angeles, the Patriots have had a little bit of extra time to stew in defeat.
And while quarterback Cam Newton certainly is not happy about the loss — which dropped the Patriots to 6-7 and all but extinguished their outside chance of making the playoffs — he is not about to create any controversy regarding his relationship with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels or with head coach Bill Belichick.
Newton, in his weekly interview on WEEI, was asked about the philosophy of the offense when four running plays are called from inside the 10-yard line, which was the case in the Patriots’ turnover on downs in the 24-3 loss to the Rams. The veteran QB used that question as an opportunity to “nip a lot of things in the bud” regarding criticism he imagined was being levied in the fanbase and media.
“One thing that’s not about to happen, and let me be perfectly clear, you’re not about to create any type of division between me and Josh McDaniels,” Newton said. “You’re talking about a person who, number one, respects this opportunity, first and foremost. And that’s talking from coach Bill Belichick, that’s talking in regards of Josh McDaniels, obviously Robert Kraft, and even Jedd [Fisch]. I think that it’d be selfish of me to kind of indirectly point the finger, when here’s a person who is putting our team in the best situation to where — you know for the most part, me and Josh’s relationship has grown, obviously, while I’ve been here. For me to kind of know him and know how his theory and thinking is, it’s been just something that I’ve even attached to myself even more. He’s a very passionate person that I would never second-guess his theory, no matter what it is.”
Newton said that players occasionally bail out coaches with plays being made on the field but that McDaniels “has bailed the whole team out because of his theory and in-game adjustments” on a number of occasions.
“So that’s that’s why you practice. That’s why you anticipate. That’s why you have the courage to say, ‘look, we got to get it better each and every time, because that’s what’s going to happen,'” Newton said. “You don’t go into a game and say you’re gonna get your ass beat. No. You’re gonna go into the game saying you’re gonna be beating their ass, right? And that’s our mentality. And, yeah, there is some division right now, I’m not sure what’s being said in the fanbase, we can assume. And things like that is your guys’ job to kind of probe and pick and things like that, and I respect that. But yet at the same time, you got guys in this locker room, including myself that’s willing to do whatever it takes to win a football game. And when you don’t get the outcome that you’re desperately searching for, yeah it hurts. Yeah, you take it personal. Yeah, you do need a time to kind of debrief. But for me to sit up here and throw a person that I admire in Josh under the bus, to say ‘he should have called four passes,’ no, I’m not gonna do it. I’m not gonna do that. Because I know just as much as the energy that I know goes into me wanting to win, I know Josh shares that same thing, and I know he wants to put this team in the best situation to win. And that’s the only thing you can ask for.”
With the team already having lost its seventh game of the season, the Patriots are in a spot as a franchise that they haven’t been since 2002. The team won at least 10 games every single season from 2003-19, a streak that unceremoniously ended on national television last week.
Despite that disappointing tally of losses, Newton also used his interview to express how much work has been put in behind the scenes — from players and coaches.
“I do not want the thought or the theory to think that there hasn’t been this must-win attitude since Week 6,” Newton said. “And, yeah, we’ve been coming up short, we did things that we know we shouldn’t have done, and, yeah, but you still cannot negate the fact that guys are busting their tails with preparation week in and week out, and doing things going over and beyond. We’re just not getting the results that we’re needing. And that’s that’s life. What happens when you study so hard for an exam and you don’t get the grade that you’re searching for? Or, you know, XYZ? My practice habits this year have been more intensified than any other time in my life. I’ve been playing this game since I was six, seven years old, and I’ve never cared about practice as much as I’ve cared about practice since I’ve been in New England. And you can’t say just because you don’t practice good, you don’t play good, because that hasn’t been the case. My practice habits have increased from watching film, to caring about each and every rep, to working out, taking on the things that you have to do on and off the field, from nutrition to rehab and everything else. And for our record to be 6-7 right now, yeah, it’s extremely frustrating, but with three games left in the fold, what am I going to stop my preparation? No. If anything else, you’re going to try to do other things to try to find ways to grit and grind and win out. And what I do know about this franchise and this city and the expectation is that that’s the way you do it. You got to just find ways to win. And that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Newton was also asked for his thoughts on Belichick defending Newton for his pick-six in that loss to the Rams. Newton disagreed with the assessment that Belichick was “defending” him but nevertheless appreciates that his coach has his back.
“I mean, it’s the truth,” Newton said of Belichick’s commentary. “You know, like, ‘defending’ … my job is to do everything that the coach is telling me to do. And that’s what I do. Contrary to whatever is being said, whatever is being analyzed, I try my best to to put on as best of a performance that I can possibly go out and do each and every play. Whether it’s deciding to throw, whether it’s deciding to run, whether it’s deciding just to make the smart decisions. And that’s what I’m coached to do and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. So no matter what Coach Bill says — and I appreciate him deeply — but at the same time I’m just doing what I’m asked to do and trying to execute to the best that know how.”