“Cam is the type of player who works on things he’s not as good at… and that’s something I really respect about him.
“He gets along with everyone, he’s very sociable and has a great presence.
“He’s very, very competitive on the pitch. … I would put him in the first rung of that.
“It’s important for him to be the first guy to come up the hill when we are doing sprints. It is important for him to be the first in everything he is involved in.
Goodness. This from the coach who only referred to Tom Brady in statements prepared this offseason. Who, when he signed Antonio Brown last year, said: “We’ll just have to see how it goes. Who, when he added Darrelle Revis in 2014, said, “Revis is a good player. I’m glad we have it.
It’s not like Belichick doesn’t praise his players in public – he often does, in fact. It’s that he usually doesn’t for a star player who hasn’t played a cliché for the Patriots yet. Belichick is never the one to drive the Hype train.
But he’s with Newton. The question is, why?
I have proposed exactly five theories. In no particular order:
1. Everything is true.
It’s not hard to imagine that everything Belichick said is true. Newton has always been known to have an electric personality, and it’s easy to see why his new teammates naturally gravitate towards him as a leader. And the Patriots made sure they had a hungry and motivated Newton when they signed him to a one-year contract this summer.
This is Newton’s big chance – to prove he can stay healthy and at 31 he’s still one of the biggest and baddest quarterbacks in the game and worthy of a franchise. QB.
And not only were the Patriots one of the few teams willing to give Newton the platform, Newton can do it with the modern NFL’s greatest coach behind him.
I have no doubt for a second that Newton was one of the hardest workers and the most competitive players on the team. He knows this is a great opportunity and he knows he has to make the most of it.
2. Belichick’s frozen heart melts.
Maybe 68-year-old Belichick is getting slack. He doesn’t have much to complain about these days. He has six Super Bowl rings, his two sons are on his coaching staff, he advertises for Subway, and he spent five months in Nantucket coming out of his 40s.
Newton isn’t the only one receiving head coach praise, either. Belichick had a lot of nice words to say about safety rookie Kyle Dugger a week ago, saying he had seen improvement “not just day by day, but in some cases from game to game.”
3. He wipes Brady.
Several times over the past few seasons, we’ve learned that Brady doesn’t feel highly regarded by Belichick or the Patriots.
You remember the great moments. Gisele Bundchen said it on “Tom vs. Time ”in the days leading up to Super Bowl 2018:“ He said to me, ‘I like it so much, and I just want to go to work and feel appreciated and have fun. “”
Later that summer, Brady told Jim Gray, “I’m pleading the fifth.”
And, of course, the ESPN magazine article that said Brady was upset that Jimmy Garoppolo wasn’t traded after the Super Bowl win over the Falcons and that Brady never won the “Patriot of the Week” award. In his MVP season.
Soon after Brady’s departure, Belichick begins to adore his new quarterback and gushes to the world how much he respects him? It cannot be a coincidence.
The follow-up question that arises: why would Belichick need to take a look at Brady? I can’t say for sure, but maybe it was a preemptive strike on the Patriots’ new book coming out, “The Dynasty”.
In the excerpt published last weekend in the New York Post, you’ll notice that while Brady is meant to be a hero for playing through a thumb laceration so bad he thought he was forcing him to retire, Belichick is constantly described in negative terms. : “Frowning”, “grumbling”, “looked at”. The excerpt ends with Belichick shedding light on Brady’s injury: “We’re not talking about open heart surgery here.”
Belichick is certainly not well represented. I guess it wasn’t Belichick’s doing.
4. He is not thrilled with Jarrett Stidham’s performance.
The hype surrounding Stidham this offseason was not justified and was not his fault. He’s a fourth-round pick with one year of NFL experience and four assists on his resume – one of them a six pick. Still, Patriots fans and media speculated that, because he was chosen by Belichick, Stidham was going to be the franchise’s next quarterback. Sorry, but fourth-round picks usually don’t go that way.
Even with unfair expectations, Stidham’s performance at camp has yet to be a big disappointment. He didn’t rise to the challenge, at one point, throwing seven interceptions over a three-day span. Then he suffered a lower body injury that affected him for several days and limited his repetitions. If you can’t go through a healthy training camp, how can Belichick trust you to stay healthy as a starting quarterback?
When Belichick says Newton is first in the building and the last to go, and he always wants to finish first in sprints, by definition that means Stidham isn’t doing those things. And I think Belichick wants Stidham to realize that’s what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the NFL.
5. He prepares Newton for a new contract.
Newton will be a free agent after this season, but there’s no reason he can’t continue his career in New England. The Patriots will have exclusive negotiating rights with Newton until March, and if Belichick continues to love what he sees, Newton, 31, could theoretically be the Patriots quarterback for several years.
If Newton has a good season, he will have suitors and big offers (Ryan Tannehill just got $ 91 million guaranteed over three years). So it would be a smart Belichick game to start praising Newton now and create an environment Newton would like to continue beyond this year.
That way, Newton might not be so offended and maybe bite when Belichick inevitably gives him a contract offer that is well below the market in November.
Ben Volin can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin