The Carolina Panthers have started off the 2013 season with a disappointing 0-2 start. They had a good preseason, going 3-1, and were starting to look like a dominate force that could contend for the playoffs. However, the Panthers have fallen short both weeks, losing the games late in the fourth quarter. With many questions still unanswered on how to fix the problems, nobody knows what to expect in Week 3. One major concern for the Panthers and their fans is quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton began his NFL career with the Panthers three seasons ago. He was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2011. He set a record for rookie quarterbacks in that season, with more than 4,000 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and over 700 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns. He patented the Superman celebration as a rookie, by pretending to rip his jersey in the middle after a first down or a touchdown, as if he was Clark Kent. Nobody questioned his celebration, because he truly was a super human with his athletic ability at the quarterback position. The following season, he managed roughly the same statistics, only slightly decreasing his rushing touchdowns and passing yards. He still led the Panthers to a 7-9 record, which was good enough to get second place in one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Once again, nobody questioned Newton about his performance and celebrations.
This season is a whole new story, however, as Newton seems to be way more hesitant to take off running. He tries to either stay in the pocket or scramble, but remains behind the line of scrimmage. He has averaged about 26 rushing yards a game and no touchdowns in two weeks. He has only averaged about 177 yards and three touchdowns total in the pass game. Newton doesn’t seem like the same Superman character the Panthers had in his first seasons. His performance is lacking, and it shows in the statistics. Newton is only 24 years old, and should be growing as a player and improving, not declining. Although he has only thrown one interception, his passing has been careless. He has missed many easy plays and over-thrown his receivers in the deep ball situation. On the occasion that he makes a great play, he still does his signature Superman celebration. However, he is now criticized for it since he doesn’t have the statistics or record to support his gestures.
The Panthers’ coaches are possibly to blame for Newton’s lack of production, potentially acting as his Kryptonite. Head coach Ron Rivera and the rest of the organization seem to have tamed Newton, by trying to keep him in the pocket and only scramble as a last resort. This is a new era for quarterbacks in the NFL. Quarterbacks who use their legs to beat defenses prove to be a very successful game plan. In the past two seasons, mobile quarterbacks, such as Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick and Andrew Luck, have been very dangerous to defenses and finish seasons with winning records. Newton needs to go back to his old ways and not be afraid to take off. His ability to run is another weapon the offense has that they need to utilize in order to confuse the defense. If Newton can take more rushing attempts, the Panthers will have a better chance of driving the ball into the end zone and possible secure a win.