Should the Panthers Be Worried About Cam Newton?
In a word, yes. Should they be panicked? No.
What the Panthers should do is have more realistic expectations.
Consider this: Cam Newtown had what anyone would admit to being an amazing rookie season. In 3 of his first 4 NFL games, he threw for 374, 422, and 432 yards. In his other 13 games, however, he averaged 217 yards, the exact same season-long average of Mark Sanchez (Over the full season, including those great games, he averaged 253 yards).
Obviously he brings considerable athleticism, averaging 44 yards on the ground in 2011 and picking up 14 rushing TDs. But if his passing ability is merely average, defenses will clamp down against the run and make him throw the ball, essentially making him Mark Sanchez.
To be fair, you can’t take away a player’s best results. But this year so far, he is averaging 42 yards on the ground and 230 yards in the air, with just one 300-yard game. His completion percentage has tumbled in the last three games (a pedestrian 52 percent compared to 70 percent). Their schedule has included the Giants, Falcons , Seahawks and division foe Saints, so it’s not as if it’s been an easy road for Carolina.
Aside from the idea of a possible nagging injury, maybe we need to think about Cam Newton in a different way. Having thrown for 300 yards just once in his last 17 games we are dealing with an average thrower. The 1-4 Panthers are 21st in the league in passing, and 14th in rushing, with Newton accounting for 37 percent of those yards.
Before the label Newton as an average overall quarterback, the Panthers must bolster their non-Newton running game. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams have to be more of a factor to allow Newton to be an aerial threat.
The Panthers should not be entirely comfortable with Newton at this point, but they need to give him more support and greater weapons around him than they have thus far to get a completely accurate picture of his ability.