Cam Newton received a vote of confidence this offseason when the New England Patriots decided to bring him back in 2021. The starting quarterback job is far from decided however, as New England used its first-round pick on Mac Jones — who is in line to become the team’s franchise quarterback.
The Patriots didn’t use a first-round pick on Jones to have him sit on the bench, so Newton will have to compete for his job (and try to hold on to it until the Patriots ultimately make the decision to switch to Jones). Coming off a season in which he was one of the worst passers in the NFL, the former MVP has enough motivation to win the job — especially as the NFL world seems to believe his best days are behind them.
“Feed your focus. Feed it. If the hate ain’t in my focus, I don’t feed it. I feed off of it, but I don’t feed it,” Newton said, via Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. “It’s two different things. When I sense or when I dwell on hatred, that’s the product that’s gonna come out: rage, anger. But that’s the hatred using me, not me using the hatred.
“So I want to process that and make that fuel me. I don’t dwell on what a person may say, what this person may say, she say, I just use it to my advantage, and I feed what I want it to feed.”
Newton started 15 games in New England last season, the Patriots’ first with a losing record since 2000. He completed 65.8% of his passes for 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions (82.9 rating). Newton rushed for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns, adding value with his legs instead of his arm. Newton scored multiple rushing touchdowns in four games in 2020, the most by any quarterback in the league. He also set the Patriots’ record for most rushing attempts (137) and rushing yards (592) in a season. Newton is also the only quarterback to reach double-digit touchdowns in three separate seasons.
The resume is there for Newton to win the job, but ranking 34th out of 35 qualified quarterbacks in touchdown percentage (2.2) and 21st in yards per attempt (7.2) must improve if he’s going to beat out Jones. The Patriots quarterback competition is one of the biggest battles this summer around the NFL, a fight Newton appears ready to win.
“You gotta visualize yourself already there. Get your mental thought of being in that moment and taking your place there,” Newton said. “And once you get there, find so much distress that you can gutter up and feel comfortable in it. Whenever that is. And that’s how you grind. You know what I’m saying? Just take your mind to that place, stay there, get uncomfortable, and be comfortable with being in that position.”