Cam Newton has been in the NFL since 2011 and in the nine years since then, he’s only played for one head coach, Ron Rivera, who was on the sideline for every single one of the 124 starts that Newton made in Carolina. During his time with Rivera and the Panthers, Newton was reportedly coddled by the team and put in a position where he never really faced any criticism after a bad game. However, that definitely won’t be the case in New England, where Bill Belichick expects everyone to “do your job,” and if you don’t do your job, then Belichick will let you know.
According to Kyle Love, that dynamic could be the one thing that creates a problem for Cam in New England this year. Love has played for both the Patriots (2010-12) and the Panthers (2014-19), so he knows what kind of environmental change Newton will be facing, and he’s not so sure Cam is going to be able to handle it.
“This is just my opinion, but I don’t feel like Cam can take the pressure of coaches talking down about his play,” Love told the Boston Herald. “If he had a bad game in Carolina, the coaching staff wouldn’t say much to him because they may have felt he could be a little frail about it or maybe pout. They never really corrected to the point Bill used to correct Tom.”
If Newton has a bad game in New England, there’s basically a 100% chance that Belichick is going to let him know.
“Bill’s going to be Bill, and he’s going to let Cam know how he feels no matter what,” Love said. “Everybody is treated equal, and I actually love that about Bill because that let the whole team know you’re going to be held accountable.”
When Love says “everybody” is treated equally in New England, that includes Tom Brady, who definitely got chewed out plenty of times during his 20 years with the Patriots. It’s not often that a head coach will criticize a quarterback in front of the entire team, but Belichick has no issues doing that.
Brady was once asked how he felt about getting yelled at in front of the team, and he said it didn’t bother him.
“I understand, that comes with him,” Brady said in February 2017. “All the times he does that to me, they’re very much deserved. He’s trying to get me to reach a high level as a player. I don’t take it personal. You always want to prove your coach wrong when he criticizes you, so I think that’s a good motivator to go back out on the field and try and get to a higher level.”
If Newton can adjust to the idea of being criticized, then he should be fine, but there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen.
“New England is not for everybody,” Love said. “Every player does not fit will there physically or mentally.”
Love also added that making the move from the Panthers to the Patriots won’t be easy.
“Being a professional in New England is different from being a professional in Carolina. It’s a whole different ballgame,” Love said. “Bill wants things run a certain way, wants things practiced a certain way and said a certain way in the classroom and in the media.”
If Newton and Belichick don’t get along, it’s going to be a long season for the quarterback in Foxborough.
“My fear is, can Cam fit in their box?” Love said. “Because I want Cam to win. I want Cam to be successful. I want to see him win games and even a championship, because I love that dude. I just hope he can do that within the guidelines of what Bill wants.”
The one upside for Newton is that Belichick has apparently lightened up over the past few years. Although he’s still strict, he seems to be a more player-friendly coach.
“I’ve heard (Belichick’s) changed since I was there,” Love said. “That he’s kind of opened up a little bit, relaxed more and isn’t as strict as when I played.”
The flip side of all this is that if the Newton experiment does work out for New England — and Cam gets along perfectly with Belichick — then the Patriots might be able to keep their dynasty alive.
“If Bill and the Patriots get a fully healthy Cam Newton, physically and mentally, that’s a scary team right there,” Love said. “It’s a championship-caliber team.”
Of course, although Newton is now with the Patriots, there’s no guarantee he’s going to be the Week 1 starter. The Patriots reported for training camp this week, which means Newton will now have roughly five weeks of practice to beat out Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer — two players who are familiar with New England’s offense — to win the starting quarterback job.