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FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 01: Cam Newton #1 makes a throw during New England Patriots Training Camp at Gillette Stadium on September 01, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

In 2020, Cam Newton struggled at times with both the physical and mental aspects of the Patriots offense. For 2021, Newton believes he’s in a far better spot with the mental stuff.

Despite the glaring inconsistency with his accuracy throwing the ball, which everyone can see, Newton also had issues reading defenses and setting protections before the snap. He got a late start on the offense after signing with the Patriots on June 28, jumping on a moving train and never catching up.

Newton is still getting mixed reviews, at best, with his actual throwing. But when it comes to the stuff that comes before the ball is snapped into his hands, Newton is working with a new mantra.

“I have a constant note that I remind myself each and every day: pre-snap comfort will help post-snap results for me,” Newton said. “Last year, Josh’s [McDaniels] system was something that has worked for decades. So for me, it was up to me to kind of learn it as much as possible, and I’m so grateful to have another opportunity to learn it as much as I possibly can. In the latter part of the [2020] season, it just caught up to me – thinking too much, I was trying to be something, when there wasn’t enough hours in the day. It wasn’t like we weren’t working. Jedd [Fisch], at the time the quarterback coach, was putting in hours and hours. You can’t simulate real live bullets, and that’s what it came down to. So it wasn’t anything as far as mechanics, it was more or less just overthinking and the comfort level.”

Newton is not wrong when he says that “overthinking” and “comfort level” were issues with him in 2020. He had trouble setting the right protections against the Texans’ pass rush in Week 11, for example. He took two sacks and was hit to the ground six times in that game. Newton also held on to the ball too long at times.

Despite his insistence that his problem wasn’t with “mechanics,” he’s also reportedly working on improving that area of his game. Throwing coach George Whitfield Jr. spoke to the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian about a months-long program with Newton to improve him from a physical standpoint.

“Honestly, he has made some nice overhauls in these last few months,” Whitfield told Guregian. “He’s made some nice changes. We’re talking about functional changes, not cosmetic changes.” According to Guregian, Newton has been working with Whitfield from 5-midnight after workouts in Foxborough.

Newton has never been the sharpest, most accurate passer to begin with. So if he can make some “functional” improvements on the margins, as Whitfield described it, while being more comfortable under center and in the pocket, then there should be a noticeable improvement from 2020 to 2021.

The question is whether it’ll be enough to turn the Patriots back into a contender.

MORE: Bill Belichick goes to bat for Cam Newton

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.