Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton is so many things, elite isn’t one of them

Explosive, dynamic, fast, strong, emotional and good at his job: all of the words describe quarterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers.

But, is he elite? To put it simply? Nope.

I am a huge fan of his, but the truth hurts.

Can you give me a reason, other than his 2015 season, where Newton outshined Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers or any of the other elite Quarterbacks in the NFL?

I’ll wait.

Newton has the tools to be one of, if not the best, in the NFL, but something is holding him back. According to many members of the media– it’s him. However, if you look closely, it may be the team around him that is limiting him.

Newton reminds me of Donavon McNabb; all of the talent to be elite, but there are no other explosive talents around him. Newton has a cannon for an arm, but who’s on the other side catching those bullets? McNabb had the same problem until he got with Terrell Owens and DeSean Jackson.

Newton has had one season in his career where he has passed for over 4,000 yards and that was his rookie year when he had Steve Smith. He has registered 30 touchdowns passing just once, and has never thrown less than 10 interceptions. His completion percentage hovers around mediocre with an average of 58-percent.

We can make all the Andrew Luck and Ryan Tannehill jokes we want in terms of winning and choker, but look at their stats. Both players are ahead of Newton in terms of production. The biggest knock on Newton is the team’s success. The Panthers have won with Newton at the helm but they are not as dominate as they should be with a player many describe as ‘elite’. But a closer look shows an area of concern.

Newton has been the lead guy for the Panthers for six years and while they have won the NFC South three times they only had a winning season two out of those six years he’s been the starter. Most QBs would be riding the bench or in heavy trade rumors by now. But, it’s that ‘elite’ talk that has kept his job safe. What has also allowed the Panthers to play it coy with Newton is the fact that the rest of the division has been on the decline. Just recently the Atlanta Falcons broke through but the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still riding the fence.

Newton is good, however, if it weren’t for his legs then he may be looking over his shoulder as the Panthers hit the NFL Draft in search of his replacement.

Newton takes a ton of criticism for his pouting on the sidelines when the team is losing and that’s understandable. However, what he must do is counter that with success. The Panthers 15-1 record in 2015 put a muzzle on most haters but then he turns around and misses the playoffs in 2016 while throwing only 19 touchdowns after 35 the previous year. Instead of getting better he seems to have regressed. There seems to be a pattern there.

Since Newton took over, the Panthers win totals have mirrored Oprah’s weight loss. 6, 7, 12, 7, 15, 6– those number could be excused if he was a bit more accurate like Rivers who has also been tied to a team that refuses to play up to his talents. Is it too late for Newton? No. He’s still in the prime of his career but if the Panthers don’t start thinking about surrounding him with better weapons, games may not be the only thing they lose.

Despite Matt Ryan leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl last season and looking to return for a chance at the ultimate trophy this year and Drew Bress still playing like a 20-year-old, along with the emergence of Jameis Winston and a star-studded Tampa Bay tem, Newton can easily be the forgotten signal caller in the NFC South.


Mark Wilson

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