Perry: Newton displaying a new kind of leadership in New England


It's become a weekly occurrence: Cam Newton throwing love the way of his teammates and coaches when he's in front of a microphone. 

This week, he lauded Julian Edelman despite the veteran needing to be limited in practice due to a knee issue:

"We understand that Julian Edelman is still a dominant player in this league."

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He praised Josh McDaniels for grinding away at the Patriots offense: 

"It's no wonder he's had so much success in being a coach here for so long."

Throughout the season he has lobbed bouquets at N'Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd and his offensive line. Everything with Newton, through three weeks, has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Maybe that's because compared to his experience in Carolina, he likes what he's seen from his new surrounding cast. Maybe his optimism is in some way a response to being humbled and without a job for nearly three months this offseason. Maybe he'd fall in love with whatever team loved him back. 

But there's no denying that -- even if the rest of the football-watching world wonders if the Patriots have enough offensive firepower to contend -- Newton has shown nothing but confidence in the group.

Bill Belichick says that kind of attitude -- that lifting up of the others around him -- isn't just a feel-good thing to witness. It has a palpable effect on the field.

"Of course," Belichick said. "I think . . . all leaders do that. You have confidence in the people you work with, then that makes everybody perform at a higher level and have confidence in each other. You have to earn that. But certainly to have confidence in the people you work with is very important to being successful."


That confidence is coming from Newton even when he's not meeting virtually with reporters.

"Yeah, absolutely," Belichick said. "Cam does a great job of connecting with everybody. Whether it's with his teammates, his receivers, guys on defense, other people in the organization. I think the captain voting -- not that that's the ultimate, the final determination of leadership -- but I think the fact that he's been here a pretty short amount of time and has earned that type of respect and support from his teammates is pretty impressive. 

"I think it's across the board. It's the offensive line, it's the receivers. It's all the offensive players and coaches and it extends into other areas as well -- special teams and defense and other areas of the organization. I think that we've all seen that. It's impressive. It's impressive. 

"He's here a lot. He's in the building. He's visible. He's in sight and it's impacted people as much as any player -- he's in the building more than any player on the team but he spends a lot of time talking and connecting and building relationships with those people. He has tremendous leadership. It's very impressive."

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Last season it appeared as though Tom Brady's patience with some of the cast around him was waning, particularly with a receiving group that was inexperienced. During a regular-season loss to the Texans on Sunday Night Football, a sideline camera broadcast to the nation Brady pleading with his wideouts for just . . . more . . . everything. 

That's a motivational style that certainly has merit. Many within the Patriots organization over the years have acknowledged that it's not the easiest place to play. Pushing people to new heights sometimes requires more than a gentle nudge or an arm around the shoulder. 

But Newton's approach, through three games this season, has been warm. And that approach has manifested itself as an abundance of confidence in the people around him, even the younger ones who haven't necessarily earned that confidence from folks outside of the Patriots facilities looking in.

Patriots quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch says that, as he sees it, that emotional support Newton has provided teammates is one of his most valuable traits.

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“I'd say it's an enormous part of it," he explained. "An enormous part. Confidence is a huge aspect of this game. And the more you can not only have confidence in the people around you, confidence in yourself, confidence in building other people's confidence. I think that's probably one of Cam's top characteristics, and that's his ability to build other people's confidence around him. 


"If he can continue to build their confidence, by either getting them the ball or working with them or talking to players and skilled position groups and continuing to motivate and inspire them all, all the confidence will be gained throughout the offense.’’

Confidence in one another won't be the be-all end-all Sunday as Newton and his new pals will try to outscore the most explosive offense in football in Kansas City. But it can't hurt.