Cam Newton isn’t just a freak athlete
2013 proved to be a big year for Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.
He was once again a very productive, all-around player as he finished the season with just under 4,000 total yards, 30 total touchdowns that included his most ever passing touchdowns, 24, and just 14 total turnovers.
Recognizing Newton’s ability now and focusing less on the manufactured negatives about his character is a popular action. However, that is primarily because his Panthers made the playoffs and his Panthers made the playoffs because of a vastly improved defense.
The additions of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short along with unexpected improvements from vested veterans allowed the defense to become one of the best in the league. According to Football Outsiders DVOA metric, they were the third best unit in the NFL after being the 11th best in 2012.
It’s easy to point to the defensive side of the ball and suggest the Panthers are only good now because of a better defense and not because Newton is a good quarterback. That is the wrong angle to look at this young quarterback and his franchise.
The real question is why were the Panthers bad during Newton’s first two seasons. He has always produced statistically and been ahead of the curve in terms of his development. A limited supporting cast on offense and an underwhelming defense simply held the franchise back from team success.
Now that the team is good and the nonsensical P.R. attacks based on body language have been eradicated, we can really focus on what Newton is.
Newton is a developing quarterback who is quickly becoming one of the best in the NFL at his position. Last season, he affirmed that idea by becoming less of a risky playmaker and more of a refined quarterback.
Statistically, he may not have run for 14 rushing touchdowns like he did during his rookie season, but he did complete a higher percentage of his passes, average fewer yards per attempt, take more sacks and attempt fewer passes than he had in previous seasons.
Some of those things are technically negatives, but that’s only if you take them in a vacuum. Continue reading