Carolina Panthers star QB Cam Newton absolutely tore up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense on Thursday Night Football, and he managed to put up 271 yards from scrimmage, score three total touchdowns, and complete 71.9% of his passes. In fact, Newton has completed over 70% of his passes in the pass three games after completing under 60% of his passes in the previous three games. For the season, Newton is completing 64.9% of his passes, and he is also averaging 7.7 yards per attempt. While that would actually be a career-low for him if the season ended today, he is completing a higher percentage of his passes and has a better touchdown-to-interception ratio. In short, Newton is playing more efficient football.
Part of that is by design, but a lot of that is because Cam Newton continues to mature. The National Football Post’s Len Pasquarelli reports that team sources told him Newton has “significantly matured” and is spending more time breaking down film. I think the proof that can be seen when watching him play, because he is doing a better job of making smarter reads and taking what the defense is giving him. I mean, he only threw two incomplete passes in an incredibly efficient game against the St. Louis Rams, and he also allowed his pass-catchers to rack up the yards after the catch against the Minnesota Vikings. In those two games, it was clear that Newton sat back, didn’t try too much, and instead decided to play more efficient football.
I like this efficient version of Cam Newton, and I’m sure Panthers fans do as well. He’s still going to take shots deep downfield, but he isn’t going to take as many of them as he did in his first two seasons. That’s honestly a plus for the Panthers offense, because trading a little bit of big plays for a significantly more efficiency is going to help. It’s not wise to put a chokehold on all of Newton’s deep throws, but it is wise to tell him to just sit back and avoid trying to do too much; that’s honestly how a lot of unnecessary INTs happen.
As for the maturing process, it’s clear that Newton has matured noticeably with every successive season in the league. At this point, anybody criticizing Newton for his approach is at least a year late to a party that has already been cleaned up.