A day after helping the Patriots win the 2020 season opener 21-11 over the Dolphins on Sunday, Cam Newton called in for his weekly interview with WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.”
Asked how he was feeling, the 31-year-old quarterback hinted at rushing for 75 yards on 15 carries.
“I’m good, I think I missed this victoriously sore feeling, but other than that, good to go,” Newton joked.
As for the win, Newton isn’t getting carried away.
“It’s a win,” Newton said, matter-of-factly. "At the end of the day, you just have to find perspective in obviously enjoying the moment, but more or less that’s expected here. That’s expected in my life, that’s expected in the way I carry myself, that’s expected in the way I prepare.
“It’s not as if you can pop champagne and get sized for rings, you just have to put things in perspective and be ready to rock 'n roll,” Newton added. “It’s a great way to start the season. It was the expected way to start the season, and we’re just going — as Captain [Matthew] Slater says — upward and onward.”
Asked later in the interview about his hamstring, specifically, Newton waved away concerns.
“Yeah, I don’t know where that came from, I have no hamstring problems,” Newton said.
He paused before humorously adding, “We won, so that means I’m not hurt anymore.”
Here are a few other topics Newton discussed in his interview:
Answering concerns about his durability
Though he was an efficient passer — going 15-19 for 155 yards through the air — Newton was most effective in helping the Patriots' ground game. His 75 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots quarterback since Steve Grogan.
Still, there are potential issues with Newton staying healthy for an entire season if he’s taking hits running the ball every game. For his part, Newton agreed when asked if he’s become better at getting down before he’s tackled.
“I just feeling like that’s just how my running style has kind of morphed over the years,” said Newton. "I just feel like I’ve gotten better at it. From the time that I got into the league until the time now, people always see the running amount, but at the same time, the toll on the runner is not always the same as a running back, so to speak.
“I think quarterbacks all alike have this invisible role to be able to get down in the open field, because they don’t have to finish the run as other positions would like to do,” Newton added. "So either I’m the hammer and not the anvil, delivering the blow, or at the end of the day I can get down and, like they all say, live to fight another day.
It’s not the first time critics have prognosticated future problems for Newton if he doesn’t adapt to a more pass-first approach.
“That’s just been me,” said Newton in response. "Every year, a new discussion comes up about it’s not smart to run, it’s not smart to do this or that, but at the end of the day, I just feel like whatever is a necessary way we have to go about winning a football game, that’s what you have to do. Me being an ultimate competitor, if I’m asked to block, I’m just going to do that. If I’m asked to run a route, I’m going to go do it.
“As long as I run and take care of myself and get down when need be,” Newton added, “then I feel as if everything will be OK.”
The familial meaning of his chain
At end of the game, Dolphins players — including several former Patriots, like Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts — got into an argument with Newton.
Asked about it on Monday, the Patriots' quarterback had a more light-hearted view of the scene.
“It’s a football game, it’s not ballet,” Newton joked. “You know, it’s not tennis. Nothing against those specific sports, but it’s just fun, the competitive nature. You have 12 members on a given sector of 53 that are alpha males, what do you expect is going to happen? In my life, growing up in Atlanta, Georgia by way of College Park, that’s just expected. If you can’t give it, you better be able to prove it.”
Part of the intensity level, Newton noted, was down to a lack of fans and atmosphere.
“For us, as the game goes on, we don’t get the luxury of hearing the crowd this year, at least for the early part of it,” said Newton, "so therefore you have to find ways to get yourself going at the end of the day in some, way, shape, form that you know how. For me, I find any person — preferably somebody on the opposite team — that can keep me competitively engaged. And thanks to [the Dolphins], they did that.
As he noted in Sunday’s postgame, Dolphins players were trying to steal a chain Newton wears around his neck.
“From where I’m, that’s just a sign of disrespect,” Newton said of the attempts to steal his chain. “I’m all about keeping everything within the confines of the game, but good thing I went to a good jeweler and got the credentials, so they didn’t do too much damage. But it’s just fun being back out there with the guys.”
For Newton, the chain bears special significance.
“Honestly, on a serious note, it’s a chain that has all my children and their birthstones on it,” Newton explained, "so you can only imagine for all the fathers that are out there, any sign of disrespect [to that].
Asked about Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s reaction to incident, Newton hinted at it with some Belichick-like dry humor.
“Let’s just say Bill was Bill.”
Playing for the Patriots has been ‘therapeutic’
Part of Newton’s story in New England is that he was only available after the team that originally drafted him, the Panthers, cut him in the offseason. Newton then spent almost three months as a free agent, waiting for an NFL team to give him another chance.
Asked if he’s playing the 2020 season with “chip on his shoulder,” the former No. 1 overall pick was direct, but added that it’s making him have even more appreciation for New England, who finally did sign him as a free agent.
“For any person that’s forgotten, yeah I do feel disrespected to a degree,” Newton admitted. “And that’s making me even more loyal and excited [to play] for the Patriots for giving me an opportunity.”
After he signed with the Patriots, there were some who were skeptical if he would fit in. Newton believes that part of the doubts were motivated by racial stereotypes, and has so far enjoyed working in an organization lead by Robert Kraft, and coached by Belichick.
“It’s just been therapeutic,” Newton said of playing for the Patriots. "Obviously, there were a lot of stereotypes coming in, too. I mentioned this yesterday with my family members, and I’ll share it with you guys. I had two battles that I wanted to kind of achieve yesterday.
“Number one, that was to win the football game,” Newton explained. “That was the battle, and we won the battle. And then I think the war for me was just to get the respect of my teammates, knowing that they can have a person that they can trust and depend on when the times get tough.”
Newton highlighted a crucial stretch in the game after a Miami score, and how the Patriots were able to immediately respond.
“I believe the drive of the game for us was the response drive when [the Dolphins] came and scored and got the two-point conversion and we were forced to respond the way we did,” said Newton. “That’s something that builds character in the team. So, for me, achieving or attaining those two specific goals that I set was something that was truly dear and what my main focus was.”
His impression of Belichick and team nicknames
After two decades of working with Brady, Belichick is now partnering with a new quarterback.
Newton explained what it’s been like experiencing Belichick’s coaching.
“I think the thing that people must know: He makes even the smartest players more cerebral, and with that being said, we go over situational football each and every single day,” Newton noted. "There’s no point in time where he cannot stop something and teach you something.
"He is the ultimate teacher and I just respect that. I just feel as if — you know, I didn’t know what to expect coming in here, you hear stories — and I just am blown away by his professionalism to adapt on the run.
Whether on the sidelines during Sunday’s win, or on the practice field, Newton has been impressed with his new coach.
“You know there was a lot of in-game adjustments, and that was something cool to watch and see, but also the preparation leading up to it,” said Newton. “We do a lot of self-scouting here, and self-scouting means if we just focus on our fundamentals and how we can become better, that helps in itself. That’s something that has blown me away, knowing that I just have to be the best version of me, and knowing that the person next to me that I’m relying on…everybody’s going to be coached the same.”
In the course of his response, Newton also displayed an array of nicknames he already has for seemingly every member of the Patriots' offense.
New England heads to Seattle in Week 2 for a matchup with the Seahawks on Sunday night at 8:20 p.m.
More coverage from Sunday’s game:
- Stephon Gilmore, Patriots secondary pick right up where they left off
- Tara Sullivan: Cam Newton steps up and steps in, and a new era begins in Foxborough
- Cam Newton made his own noise in a smashing debut for Patriots
- Chad Finn: Now that reality has set in, watching Cam Newton on the Patriots will be a lot of fun — and other thoughts
- Cam Newton rushed for more yards in one game than Tom Brady did in two regular seasons combined
- Instant analysis: Patriots win, and Josh McDaniels hasn’t unleashed the full Cam Newton experience yet