Cam Newton's proving a lot of people wrong
Posted October 10, 2011
I admit it. I was wrong.
Really, really, really wrong.
I thought Cam Newton was a reach as the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. I thought the Panthers were more concerned about selling tickets than winning football games, and I thought the selection reeked of desperation.
And then the season started.
Newton has been better than I could have imagined. He has already accounted for 12 touchdowns this season - seven through the air, and five more on the ground. But more importantly, the Panthers are relevant again. They're only 1-4 this season, but all of their losses have come by a touchdown or less and the Panthers have been "in" every game until the very end.
Compare that to 2010, when the Panthers lost 12 games by double-digit margins, and The Newton Effect can be quantified.
Consider this statement from Saints coach Sean Payton:
"More than anything else, he (Newton) gives them hope, and confidence, and a chance to win each time they play," Payton said. "That's the biggest difference in them right now."
Yep, hope and confidence are two things that were sorely missing last season.
When the Panthers made this pick, I was convinced Newton would be a "project," a guy the Panthers would have to bring along slowly. Here was a guy known more for his rushing skills than his passing, and the Panthers made him the No. 1? All I could envision was a lengthy - and painful - learning curve during which the Panthers consistently got their heads kicked in game after game.
You know, like last season...
I also couldn't help but think the Panthers were still shell-shocked from the beatings Michael Vick used to give them with the Falcons. They were looking for a quarterback that could do THAT for THEM, I thought, and Newton's running ability fit the bill.
Newton certainly is mobile, but he's not acting like a "run-first" quarterback in this Panthers offense. Now, I think the Ben Roethlisberger comparisons may be more accurate - Newton's size and mobility allow him to shake a tackle or two in the pocket to buy time to find a receiver, much like Big Ben has done for years.
The bottom line is this: I look forward to watching the Panthers play again, and Cam Newton is the single, most important reason for that.
I was wrong about this pick, and man... am I glad I was.