Cam Newton has been on fire over the past three weeks, putting together the best stretch of his young career. In three games, he accounted for eight touchdowns without a single turnover, and the Carolina Panthers reeled off a string of convincing wins. Newton has benefited greatly by adapting to a more balanced offense, distributing the ball evenly amongst his teammates rather than forcing himself into the role of the playmaker.
While Newton certainly has the ability to generate big plays by himself, that style is very risky and ultimately has resulted in crushing turnovers, while his new style has resulted in more positive feedback and more wins.
Newton and the Panthers were hoping that the quarterback could continue to ride that momentum into their divisional matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, but his performance was very hit-and-miss. Newton continuously bounced between his two personalities during the game, missing a number of makeable throws and tossing two easily avoidable interceptions, including one that killed the Panthers’ momentum going into halftime.
Newton also made a number of critical plays, continuing drives with Ben Roethlisberger-like scrambles and well-timed designed runs, including a late rushing touchdown that put the Panthers up 24-10.
Admittedly, Newton’s performance wasn’t terrible. He’s had much worse outings in his career, like his four-turnover performance in Week 5 against the Cardinals, for instance. The Panthers still won convincingly and tightened the gap between them and the Saints in the division. The point, however, is that Newton won’t be facing teams like the Falcons every week.
He can get away with spotty performances against subpar competition like Atlanta and Minnesota, but he needs to clean up his play if the Panthers want to make a playoff push or possibly challenge New Orleans for the division lead.