The sophomore slump is one of the most talked about and know occurrences around the world of sports no matter what the sport or league is. If a player has an incredible rookie campaign then the first thing which is brought up during preseason is how will the player avoid having a sophomore slump. Every player experiences it, the level of how bad the sophomore slump is may vary from player-to-player but it happened to the best of them. Now Carolina Panthers second-year quarterback Cam Newton is experiencing his; but how bad is it really and how can he correct it before it becomes even worse?
Last season Newton torched the NFL during his rookie campaign to a tune of 4,051 passing yards, 706 rushing yards and 35 total touchdowns (21 passing and 14 rushing) while leading his Panthers to a less-than-terrible 6-10 record. He became the only rookie quarterback in NFL history to amass 4,000 yards passing, set the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a quarterback, unanimously was named AP Rookie of the Year and even was named to his first Pro Bowl. In the process of accomplishing all of those tremendous achievements he would celebrate by using his hands to give the illusion that he was opening his shirt to reveal a costume Ala Clark Kent when he was transforming into Superman, thus providing the nickname of SuperCam.
Now fast forward to the first five games of Newton’s sophomore season of 2012 and nothing seems so super at all. Newton has passed for just 1,154 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions while leading his Panthers to a dismal 1-4 record. Although last season he had just led the Panthers to one victory during the first five games also he showed signs of promise while putting up much better statistics in the process (through five games: 322.8 passing yards per game in 2011 vs 213.8 passing yards per game in 2012). Newton’s body language seemed excited despite the losing and he appeared eager to get on the field and change the losses to wins as opposed to now where he looks disinterested in the game while sitting on the sideline, almost soaking in sadness with a towel over his head.
Not only is Newton’s poor play effecting himself but it is also effecting his team as well; after all he his the quarterback of the team and with that automatically comes being the leader of that team no matter if he wears a C with stars underneath it on his chest or not; at the age of just 23 years old he already the leader of 52 other men and he must act accordingly otherwise watch his falter and be prepared to take the blame. Last season the Panthers ranked seventh in the NFL in total offensive yards per game (389.8), 13th in pass yards per game (239.3) and was tied for fifth in points scored per game (25.4) this year they are 22nd in total offensive yards per game (337), 21st in pass yards per game (223) and 26th in points scored per game (18.4).
The Panthers roster still remains pretty much intact as far as who was there was there last year and this season so then where is the blame going to be placed; on the starting quarterback that’s where and that seems to be an issue with Newton. This season he appears easily rattled and agitated by members of the media when they ask him certain questions regarding their slow start as well as frustrated by teammates and members of the coaching staff when they approach him in attempts to tell him things in-game. Those are huge problems that will continue to effect his play unless he learns how to take constructive criticism from members of the media, his teammates and most importantly members of his coaching staff.
Cam Newton still has plenty of time remaining in the season to turn it around for his team and breakout of his own personal sophomore slump after all the Panthers didn’t become a better team until the final six games of the season when they won four of those six games; but he will have to cease beginning so thin-skinned and accept the criticism willing just as he receives the accolades. Remember with great power comes great responsibility and there isn’t much more of either in sports than being a starting quarterback in the National Football League.