Cam Newton took the NFL by storm in 2011 when he passed and ran all over defenses as a rookie. Newton threw for over 4,000 yards, while completing 60% of his passes. In addition, he rushed for over 700 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to easily winning rookie of the year honors.
However, 2012 was a different story, and Newton and the Carolina Panthers limped their way through most of the season. If it wasn’t for a four-game winning streak to end the year, the season could have been labeled as disastrous. Newton had his fair share of struggles along the way, but did he really experience the proverbial sophomore slump?
Let’s take a look at some key statistics:
Newton was down in nearly every major statistical category for quarterbacks. He threw for fewer yards (182), touchdown passes (2), and his completion percentage dropped by 3%. He did rush for more yards (35), but found the end zone on a less frequent basis (6), via the ground. He did throw fewer interceptions (5), and his passing rating increased (1.7).
So is it really fair to say he had a sophomore slump? The answer is – no.
Newton set the bar so high with his ridiculous rookie campaign, that I don’t think it’s fair to label his second season as a failure, or to say that he took a step back. You could argue the Panthers did as a team on some levels, but Newton didn’t regress. He stayed in the ballpark with his rookie stats, and still led the team to one more victory than 2011.
I think we’ll have a much better idea of how effective Newton will truly be after his upcoming third season. Teams have lots of film on him now, and it will be interesting to see how he progresses as a passer. We all know he’s an athletic freak, but in the NFL, quarterbacks are measured by their ability to stand in the pocket and deliver consistently.
As far as that sophomore slump label, Newton doesn’t deserve it.
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