Cam Newton Looked Reborn Last Sunday


Coming off of a hot 2013 season in which he was a top five quarterback, Cam Newton began the 2014 season in similar fashion. Unfortunately, Newton hit a brick wall after week six and struggled for the following six games. After a poor streak of games, Newton’s game vs the New Orleans Saints this past Sunday gives hope that the Newton of old may be back.

As I wrote earlier in the season, Newton’s struggles were not at all a product of him simply being bad. It was a number of things, including his health, middling receiver play and poor run support, but there was especially a lack of offensive line help. Newton was being beaten and battered to the point where his physical health came crashing down and he couldn’t perform as well as he had been. As a product of that, there was a noticeable hesitancy and discomfort in his play.

In the six games following week six, Newton was sacked 25 times, nine of which came in the Philadelphia Eagles game alone. Carolina’s line simply could not hold up and Newton was no longer able to move like he was in 2o13. That said, the key factor for Newton being able to show a breath of life versus New Orleans was, of all things, the offensive line being serviceable.

Per the Pro Football Focus, three of Carolina’s offensive linemen posted neutral or positive pass block grades. The two that did not were Byron Bell (completely expected) and Ryan Kalil (somewhat of a shock). Though, as a collective unit, the offensive line had one of their best games in a while and was the first offensive line grouping in Carolina to play two consecutive games together. The synchronization of the group was clear as day and, as I have been saying, they kept Newton upright as he was sacked zero times.

Though, what may have been most impressive of the team around Newton was their dedication to him as their leader. During the 1st quarter of the Saints game, a fight broke out after Newton scored a touchdown. A Saints player began scrapping with Newton, leading to this:

With the offensive line being more of a service than a hindrance, Newton was allowed to more smoothly finish his drops and go through multiple reads. He didn’t show any sort of hesitancy or fear. It was the most comfortable Newton had looked in a long while. Knowing what a healthy, comfortable Newton is capable of, seeing him play the way he did was refreshing.

Considering Newton’s season has been a roller coaster, it would not be outlandish to assume Newton keeps up this kind of play for the remainder of the year. Carolina’s final three games are against Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Atlanta. With two division wins over Tampa Bay and Atlanta, both of which are very winnable games, Carolina may thrust themselves into the lead of the NFC South. Of course, they would also need New Orleans to lose a couple of their final games, but that is not far-fetched either.

If Cam Newton can come out for three more weeks and display the level of confidence, comfort and ability that he did for the first six games and last week, Carolina can most certainly make a strong push for the division title. Granted, the team will not survive in the playoffs regardless, but with a few more impressive performances from Newton, the general view of him may return to normal.

Next: Brandon Scherff Scouting Report