Huge flaw in just taking Newton out of last years equation and thinking it holds true. From week 1 forward....he actually helped everyone with the attention that was on his arm and legs.
You can never just "erase" any players contributions from an offense, obviously. Especially, the quarterback's. No need to. The point reamains just as valid. The Panthers had a great rushing attack last year for a number of reasons. Newton was one of those reasons. It helped their passing game tremendously.
This year, the Panthers have struggled to run the ball. Several factors have played into that. Including Newton's poor execution of the zone read.
He has to complete passes in tougher spots this year. He finds himself in many obvious passing situations. Just like any number of other quarterbacks...
And he has responded very poorly in those situations.
As a matter of fact, Carolina is statistically the worst passing team in the NFL on 2nd and 3rd down...
Newton has an unlimited ceiling. He needs to relax. He needs to make better decisions. He needs to improve his mechanics. He needs to stop locking onto receivers. He needs to stop playing, as Mark Schlereth calls it, "hero ball".