Ever since he was a quarterback at Westlake High School, people rarely doubted that Cam Newton had all the tools to be a potential NFL superstar. He showcased his freakish athletic ability in the collegiate ranks where he went on to win both the Heisman Trophy and a National Title, prior to being selected number 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers
It didn’t take long for the national audience to catch the attention of Cam Newton in the NFL. In his very first game in the NFL, Cam was already breaking records. On September 11th, 2011, Newton displayed to everyone why the Panthers chose him number one overall. Newton began his career with a 422 yard passing day with 3 scores (2 passing, 1 rushing). His 422 passing yards surpassed Peyton Manning’s rookie record for most passing yards on opening day. The following week Newton passed his personal record for passing yards with a 432 yard passing game. These two back-to-back performances was also a NFL record for most passing yards in the first two games of the season, however, Tom Brady broke the same record later on that day.
In his first season Newton led the Panthers to a much improved 6-10 record, winning Rookie of the Year and making his first Pro Bowl appearance. Despite achieving great rookie success, Newton had a bit of a sophomore slump. He did not really improve and the team had around the same success as the year before.
This season, his third season in the league, was set to be a make or break year. If he was going to truly begin his maturation process and development, it was going to be this year. With expectations being much higher than any of the past few years in Carolina, Newton was put under a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed.
Well, after last I think there is no doubt about it; Cam Newton has truly arrived in the NFL. Coming into last night’s game, Newton was playing better than ever before. In the span of the two games, Newton was 35-43, with 446 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 rushing touchdown and ZERO turnovers. The most important thing that stands out about those two games, the Panthers won both of them. With a chance to go over .500 for the first time since 2008, Cam Newton and the Panthers prevailed against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and yet again, Newton was the main story.
Newton was able to continue to be extremely accurate and continued to make great decisions with the football. Newton ended the game with a 71.9% completion percentage, 221 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown and for the third straight game, zero turnovers. In his third NFL season, Cam Newton has excelled himself from a middle of the pack quarterback to a quarterback who is playing with great confidence, maturity and poise.
Another impressive stat; Newton is the only quarterback with a passer rating of over 136 for two straight weeks. Not bad, huh? Newton has completely evolved his game. I’m not the only one who thinks that as well. “He’s letting the play kind of unfold the way it’s designed,” tight end, Greg Olsen said. “That’s when you’re playing quarterback at a high level.”
But where is this all coming from? Out of nowhere, Newton is making his progressions instead of locking onto one or two targets. Everyone is getting involved in the offense, even running back, Deangelo Williams who is having a great season. For the longest time Newton lacked the patience and pocket pressure. Now, Newton is letting the game come to him instead of trying to make the big play to win the game. I guess you can credit the turnaround to everyone, Newton said. “It’s not about individual success.” Newton is completely sold on Ron Rivera and Mike Shula’s coaching philosophies. It’s not just Newton that is buying in as well. The coaches are giving Cam more freedom to run the offense and its working.
If Cam Newton can continue to play like this, the Panthers can easily find themselves in the Wild Card hunt. With the Saints favored to win the division and one of the Wild Card spots likely going to either San Francisco or Seattle, the Panthers could be the team with the best opportunity to earn their way into the playoffs.
Asides from Newton, the Panthers possess a really good defense, ranking third in the league. This helps take a tremendous amount of pressure of off Newton.
It’s about time Cam has arrived. It’s such a pleasure watching him play. His great size and speed combined with his great arm and accuracy is going to give him the ability to have a great career. Although his team has not had success over the past two seasons, the Panthers are definitely going to be a force to be reckon with over the next couple of years. I hope Cam can continue this type of play because it is truly fun to watch.
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