Is Cam Newton really poised for the next level?


The 6 ft 5 in 244 lb Heisman winning QB drafted 1st overall in the NFL’s 2011 draft to the Carolina Panthers came into the NFL under much scrutiny. His wide smile and his gleaming self-imaged swagger turned a large number of people off by him. Just the same, it also drew in many people as well. Playing for the Auburn Tigers, he was a phenom to watch play the field on Saturdays.

On Sunday versus the newly overhauled Arizona Cardinals Cam Newton simply stepped onto the field and played like a 5 year veteran. He lit up the Cardinals confused pass coverage for 422 yards and 2 touchdowns. His disputed accuracy issues were also a non factor, completing 24-37 for an outstanding 65%. Breaking a legendary passing record held by Peyton Manning in a regular season opening game. Not too bad a player to follow up, in my opinion.

The Panthers, who have unquestionably struggled with any QB of any adequate value for a number of years, with no QB throwing for more than 3500 yards in a season since Jake Delhomme in 2004. Should be extremely satisfied, although losing the game, they got a good look at a guy who certainly looked ready for the pros on Sunday. Jimmy Clausen, last year was horrible, and Matt Moore at QB was no better either. The Panthers have been a dreadful passing team for far too long, relying on the legs of their RB stud, DeAngelo Williams, who was shut down for merely 30 yards. And other RB Jonathan Stewart only rushed for 26, Newton was extremely important in the game for the Panthers to be competitive.

He had no problem throwing the ball deep as well, he wasn’t afraid to take that chance like most rookies are terrified to. Taking that option or making the big rookie mistake. He made Panthers fans trust in Steve Smith again, who caught 8 balls for 178 yards and both of Newton’s TD passes. Newton who at times looked uncertain in the preseason looked poised and ready for the season on Sunday.

The Panthers are evidently expected to be a poor team this year, with not much to look forward to but another high draft pick in 2012. But Newton has given Panthers fans something to watch with pleasure on Sundays. Many didn’t trust his accuracy; his swagger didn’t always match the potential future for him as an NFL starting QB.

I would certainly say after Sunday’s game the Panthers have something to root for. They certainly will not be a 12 win team, a 9 win team, or probably even a 5 or 6 win team, but they will be fun to watch if this game shows us anything. Cam Newton is going to be the face of this franchise for years to come; no one wants to have that face be a failure, especially with the oft timed failures of high end QB picks (cough, cough…JaMarcus Russell). The Carolina Panthers looked equipped to try to make the right step and make progress to a poor team for the last 4 out of 5 years.


Mike Anthony for

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