A few days ago a journalist asked new Panthers wide receiver and former Patriot Chris Hogan to compare Cam Newton to Tom Brady. It was an inevitable question we all knew was coming though Hogan may have not been quite prepared to answer it. He’s worked with Newton a month at the most. Is it not obvious to anyone paying attention they are very different people and therefore very different football players? Sure but it does not mean they won’t ask the question hoping for a juicy headline. Hogan to his credit gave a roundabout answer without saying anything negative about either player. Yet for me his comparison after just a short period of time has some red flags between the lines.
The obvious comparison between the two is wins and losses, championships, MVPs and all that. Brady dominates just about every quarterback past and present in those categories so let’s move past that. Slob on Brady’s nob elsewhere please. I am more about what makes a winning quarterback win and does Cam Newton truly have everything it takes to win a Super Bowl.
I think one key characteristic we see from winners is calm under pressure. Right? We hear this in all sports, it is the players that can put enormous pressure in a bubble and blow it away in order to focus on victory. That is what I was looking for when I read this comparison by Hogan.
“Oh, yeah!” Hogan said Thursday as the Panthers wrapped up a three-day mandatory minicamp, their final practice before they gather for training camp July 24. “It seems like to me all the tools are there.”
“[Offensively], we have a lot of talent, a lot of good guys. Our defense, they look pretty scary on paper.”
At first I thought he was referring to Cam but instead he is referring to the offense in general, so I think that was an initial dodge of the question but Hogan quickly realized he wasn’t going to get off that easy.
Hogan said Newton and Brady are two “totally different players” in their day-to-day routine and approach to practice. Newton is more kid-like, running 50 yards downfield to hip-bump a teammate after a big play and yelling like he’s on a schoolyard all the way. Brady has a more businesslike approach.
Okay it is mini camp, so to frame it positively; keeping things light is not a bad thing correct? I can agree with that on the surface. But we longtime fans of Newton know that is Newton’s disposition whether it is mini camp, training camp or the regular season. I had really hoped he would learn to temper that somewhat with age. Here is one of the problems I see with the schoolyard practice mentality.
It just doesn’t mesh with performance under pressure. It forces him to keep his emotions on his sleeve. That is a hard thing to do over an entire game. If things should go sour then those emotions become obvious too. With Newton it has had a snowball effect that hasn’t resulted in winning in past seasons.
Moving back to Brady when I read ‘business-like’ I think ‘focused’ rather than the negative connotation stiff, unfeeling or uncaring. Yet I get a notion that Hogan does feel that way about Brady given it is his first words used. So in this regard maybe Newton and Brady are also opposites; Newton is too aloof and Brady is too damn serious.
“That competitive nature, it’s there,” Hogan said. “When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games. “Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him.”
“He’s been a lot of fun to be around, just his overall work ethic and seeing how he goes about his process,” Hogan said of McCaffrey. “These are some of the most competitive guys I’ve been around,” Hogan said.
Yes Cam is competitive, he would not be where he is if he wasn’t. Yes Cam wants to win just like every other quarterback. Neither of those statements say anything. Finally those who get to know him he is fun to be around. It makes for a good locker room atmosphere. But does any of that equate to Super Bowl winner? So far it has not but that is not to say it couldn’t happen. I’m just saying that if it did it would be unprecedented.
Of course I wouldn’t argue with having such a strong supporting cast it makes quarterback play not as important to winning a Lombardi Trophy. Think Brad Johnson and Trent Dilfer as Super Bowl winning quarterbacks. That seems improbable for Carolina for 2019.
Instead I am hoping for a less playful Newton in 2019 once the season rolls around; more steady play and less highs and lows. I believe in the saying ‘perfect practice makes perfect’. It is never too early to beginning preparing for a Super Bowl run. In that regard I hope Chris Hogan can influence the rest of the offense.