For many players, 7,920 yards passing, 1,447 yards rushing, 40 passing touchdowns and 22 rushing touchdowns would be a two-year stretch that would have people praising you. Cam Newton has experienced the opposite — the praise just hasn’t been coming his way.
Despite the fact that his stats are mind-boggling, the fact that his team has a losing record with those numbers has people doubting if Cam can be that difference maker that the Carolina Panthers can depend on for the future.
There have been several critics of Cam as a passer despite his numbers. His accuracy is almost always in question even though he is a career 59% passer. Watching him in games, he does let that high ball creep into his throws once or twice throughout the game. He’s not the only quarterback in the league who does it, but he gets a ton of criticism for it more frequently.
Andy Dalton was drafted in the same draft class, and he completes 60% of his passes. How much better is 1% as a passer? Well it really depends on who you ask. Andy Dalton isn’t criticized as much because he wasn’t the number one draft pick. Andy Dalton doesn’t leap over defenders and pull his shirt open like he’s Superman.
That being said, who has the better team? Andy Dalton is playing with a pretty good group of guys who had playoff experience before he arrived. Cam was picked first because the Panthers were awful the year before he got there. They didn’t trade up to get him like the Redskins did to get Robert Griffin III. They didn’t lose a quarterback difference maker from a playoff team like the Colts did when they got Andrew Luck with that first pick last year. They were just an awful team in need of some good players.
Newton does have to step up and do his part. That completion percentage needs to come up to somewhere in the 64% range. His touchdown-to-interception ratio needs to improve. He needs to become a better passer and a smarter runner. However, his critics need to chill. Give the kid a chance to grow. He’s in his third year. Most quarterbacks don’t figure it out until year four. You have a few who do, but there aren’t many who can.
The Panthers need to become the running team that they are built to be. Not many teams have three runners who can hurt you in so many ways. Take advantage of the guys you are paying all that cash to. DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner are all good players. Get the most out of those guys, and take some pressure off of your quarterback and defense.
When you think about how good Cam was his rookie year, it was mainly because teams were stacking the line of scrimmage to stop the run. When that happens, teams can only play cover three, one or zero. That’s easy for the quarterback to identify and makes his reads simple. Sometimes simple is good when you are struggling a little bit.
Panther fans have nothing to worry about though, as I think Cam will be fine. The Panthers are putting the right pieces together, and the possibilities are endless if it all comes together for them soon. If Cam can get off to a good start and Brandon LaFell can continue to emerge as a solid number two receiver, watch out for the Panthers this year.