Pick up a football preview magazine, or click on a Carolina Panthers team preview online, you're likely to see some variation of the same report on Cam Newton.
Immature. Disappointing second season. Didn't develop as hoped. Needs to turn his career back around this season.
Newton is one of the best players in the NFL, and could be on the verge of a special career. It's just a bit strange that the narrative surrounding him has gone in an entirely different direction.
Was Newton, who had arguably the best rookie season of all time in 2011, bad in 2012? Well, let's compare him to a couple of the NFL's brightest stars and find out:
Player A: 3,869 yards, 19 TD, 12 INT, 57.7 completion percentage, 8.0 yards per attempt, 86.2 rating Player B: 4,374 yards, 23 TD, 18 INT, 54.1 completion percentage, 7.0 yards per attempt, 76.5 rating
Player A is obviously Newton. Player B is Andrew Luck, who has gotten a lot more pats on the back this offseason than Newton. Luck (who is great is his own right) had 142 more passing attempts, but Newton was much more efficient throwing the ball.
Newton is more than just a passer. So let's take a look at this rushing comparison:
Player A: 127 attempts, 741 yards, eight touchdowns Player B: 120 attempts, 815 yards, seven touchdowns
Player B might have been a touch better, but it's pretty close. Player A is Cam Newton, Player B is Robert Griffin III. And we all know which of those two is getting more praise this offseason.
So last season Newton threw it better than Luck, was almost as productive running it as Griffin, and we're supposed to believe he took a major step back. Luck and Griffin took their teams to the playoffs, but as we already know, it's foolish to judge a quarterback simply on his record (and, the Panthers weren't that far off anyway, going a terribly unlucky 1-7 in games decided by less than a touchdown).
Does Newton need more work on his accuracy, and overall game? Sure. Here's the list of quarterbacks who needed a good amount of work after two NFL seasons: Every quarterback who has ever played. Newton is 24. He'll get better.
Newton did struggle for a bit last season, but if you think he had a bad 2012 you tuned out after seven Panthers games. Here's what he did his last nine games, and how that prorates out to a 16-game season:
Last nine games: 2,168 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT, 159-for-273 (58.2 percent), 94.7 rating, 76 rushes, 431 rushing yards, 5 rushing TD Prorated for a full season: 3.854.2 yards, 24.9 TD, 7.1 INT, 135.1 rushes, 766.2 rushing yards, 8.9 rushing TD
That would be a heck of a season, especially for a 23-year-old second-year quarterback. The Panthers were 6-3 in those final nine games, for those interested in such things.
So Newton had what amounts to a seven-game sophomore slump. In the last nine games he had a better quarterback rating than players like Matt Schaub, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Matthew Stafford had in 2012. Newton was a better passer over his last nine games than Flacco was last season, and Flacco just got a $120 million extension. And over the season Newton rushed for more touchdowns than Jamaal Charles, C.J. Spiller, Chris Johnson, Matt Forte, LeSean McCoy and many, many others.
So, so disappointing.
Instead of the talk focusing on Newton's phenomenal first two seasons, we hear about how he's not a captain yet and how he needs better body language. He seems to rub people the wrong way, going all the way back to the NCAA investigation into his recruitment at Auburn. It's overshadowing his greatness.
The way people view Newton will change, and very soon. He's way too good for everyone to continue to nitpick on things like him smiling too much before games and his touchdowns celebrations. Don't miss out.
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Cam Newton came out of the gate on fire, passing for 854 yards in his first two games and he would win his first game of the year in week 3 vs. The Jacksonville Jaguars. Newton would go on to complete the first half of the season as the lead passer in 6 of the 8 games. Newton set the tone early in the season that he is for real. While The Panthers would finish the first half 2-6, Cam Newton would have higher game totals in passing yards than opponents Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Jay Cutler. However, Newton would have no victories over their teams and his week 8 match up vs. The Minnesota Vikings would be the last time he was a game’s passing leader.
Newton’s led Panthers would finish the second half of the season going 4-4 but only one season win over a team with a winning record. The Panthers beat The Houston Texans in week 14 minus key offensive players including Texans starting quarterback Matt Schaub. That’s right; T.J. Yates had more passing yards than Cam Newton in their match up. While The Panthers were winning, defending Cam Newton was becoming a challenge more easily accomplished than in the first half of the season.
In the second half of his rookie season, Newton’s passing yards per game totals would leave him runner up to the leader in all eight games. Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Painter, T.J. Yates and both Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterbacks, Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson would out pass Cam Newton. Of Cam Newton’s 4051 passing yards, 34% would be achieved in games 1-4. In games 5-8, Cam would amass another 25% of his season total, followed by 22% in games 9-12, and finishing the final four games with only 19% of his rookie season’s total passing yards.
Maybe it was the mental game wearing down on Newton but when we see his best games coming in September following an off season with a lock out, Cam Newton’s sophomore slump seems highly possible. In Week 1 Newton matched up against Kevin Kolb and The Arizona Cardinals, followed by The Green Bay Packers’ high powered offense and then The Bears’ week 4 match up, going toe to toe with what was still a Mike Martz ran offense at full strength. If we take out those three games, Cam Newton’s record improves to a .461 win percentage as opposed to .375 but he would only have an average of 217 passing yards per game. Newton’s touchdown to interception ratio and total rushing touchdowns were identical in both halves of the season. However, in addition to his victory over T.J. Yates and The Texans, Newton’s wins came against extremely inferior opposition as his passing yards per game declined throughout the season.
That article kind of makes good points but the writer did not watch us last year. The reason the yards went down for Cam the second half of the season is due to the improved running game as the season progressed.
We were a more balanced offense and were scary as fug. Cam can throw for 350 if he wants to. Chud found ways to utilize our badass backfield as the season progressed and it showed in our efficiency and Cams drop in pass yards per game.