It wasn’t too long ago that everyone in Charlotte had Cam fever. He was the hope for the Panthers future, and the player that and coach would love to build around. But things haven’t gone the way most fans expected. The Panthers have stumbled out of the gates, to an 0-2 start, and now Head Coach Ron Rivera’s job is in serious doubt. Should Newton’s be as well?
The fact is the offense hasn’t performed up to expectations. A year after averaging over 22 points per game, and just two removed from a 25 point per game average, the Panthers offense has managed just 30 points in two games. It’s not all on Cam, his Wide Receiver core is below average, the Offensive Line is patchwork at best, and he’s still missing the second Tight End that he thrived with in 2011. But Cam has played his part in the offensive failures. He hasn’t pulled the trigger, or simply hasn’t seen open Receivers down field, He still is playing with poor mechanics, having trouble with accuracy, and he’s staying in the pocket too long when things break down. Maybe the most concerning part of Cam’s play, he’s a third year Quarterback who’s still having trouble reading the defense, and staring targets down instead of looking off Safeties. So I ask again, should the Panthers look to move Cam Newton?
Ideally no, but it’s complicated. Even with the things Cam isn’t doing, or isn’t doing well, he’s not exactly being utilized correctly. Cam is an athlete, and has always been at his best when making plays outside of the pocket, or down field with the ball in his hands. Despite this, it seems the Offensive philosophy has changed under new Coordinator Mike Shula, and new General Manager Dave Gettleman. There’s more of an emphasis on Cam to make plays in the pocket it seems, and putting him in situations to use his athletic ability has become less important. Not to be cliché, but that is putting a square peg into a round hole. In order for Cam to be a winning Quarterback (at least at this point in his career), you have to let him do what he does best. That means getting outside of the tackle box on roll outs, and utilizing his ability to make plays with his legs whether it’s making a throw on the run, or getting past the sticks with his running ability.
There’s no denying that Cam can be an elite weapon in the NFL. He’s done it already. He’s compiled the most yardage of any Quarterback in his first two years in NFL history. But what he’s doing in Carolina currently just isn’t working. Whether it’s Cam’s fault, the coaches fault, or the General Manager’s fault is irrelevant. For the Panthers to win consistently they need Cam to be Cam. So if they don’t want him to be Cam, is there really a reason to keep him? See, I told you it was complicated.
Ron Rivera will inevitably lose his job for his own failures. A new staff will be brought in, and tasked with turning Cam into the top-tier Quarterback he shows the potential to be. But will that staff recognize what Cam does well? Will that staff let Cam be Cam? Will that staff come up with the creative and unique plays that Cam needs to be an elite weapon again? If not then Cam may not be the guy that this franchise needs, and both parties would be better off parting ways.
As a fan of Cam Newton I hate the idea of him playing anywhere but Charlotte, but I also want what’s best for the team. If the Panthers can get multiple first round picks to acquire a top-tier Quarterback who fits their system, as well as complimentary pieces to build around that Quarterback it might be the best option.
Ideally the Panthers hire that dynamic Head Coach who will fully utilize Cam Newton (can anyone say Kevin Sumlin), but Jerry Richardson’s history with Head Coaching hires casts serious doubt that the next Head Coach will be that kind of guy. It’s an interesting debate that has cases to be made for both sides. My preference is to keep Cam, build the offense around him, and give him the weapons other teams have given their young franchise Quarterbacks, but Dave Gettleman and Jerry Richardon may not see it the same way…