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QB Cam Newton - Carolina Panthers

6-5, 248Born: 5-10-1989College: AuburnDrafted: Round 1, pick 1

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Week 21: at Denver Broncos

All QB vs DEN

Mark and Joe say: Neutral matchup. Cam Newton didn't have to throw the ball much against the Seahawks, as Jonathan Stewart and the defense staked him to a 21-0 lead by early in the second quarter that Sunday. Newton did eventually hit Greg Olsen (six targets for 6/77/1 during the entire game) for a 19-yard TD, and the Panthers went into halftime with 31 points - the same total that they won the game with at the end (31-24). All told, Newton threw 16/22 for 161 yards passing, one TD and zero interceptions two contests ago. Then, Newton accounted for four TDs against the Cardinals during the Panthers 49-15 Conference Championship victory, throwing 19/28 for 335 yards passing, two TDs and one interception thrown, with 10/47/2 rushing to his credit. Corey Brown (seven targets for 4/113/1 receiving) and Olsen (eight for 6/113/0) both went over 100 yards receiving during the game, with big assists thrown in by Devin Funchess (three for 2/21/1) and Ted Ginn Jr. (two for 2/52/0). The Panthers' passing attack is on a roll entering this Super Bowl, and they finished their victory against the Cardinals emphatically, which the team had stated was their goal after allowing Seattle to get back in the contest during the Divisional Round of the playoffs. As an aside - Newton has a 105.6 passer rating and has posted a 39:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone since 2014. He's thrown 26 red zone touchdowns this season without a single interception, according to As of Tuesday, February 2, the Broncos expected free safety Darian Stewart (MCL sprain) and strong safety T.J. Ward (nagging ankle injury) to be ready for Super Bowl 50. They were both expected to practice on Wednesday, February 3. However, Ward has tweaked his ankle injury multiple times and has been sidelined at times after the aggravations, so it is dicey that he is able to finish this game even if he starts it. On January 30, after missing the bye week of practices, Ward stated: 'Anytime you get an opportunity to play in this game, and you can run a little bit, I'm guaranteeing you're going to be out there.' Ward said. Stewart affirmed Ward's sentiment. 'Without a doubt in my mind, I'm playing.' Right cornerback Chris Harris (shoulder injury) is considered probable to play, so the Broncos will at least begin the contest with their starting secondary. If Denver is going to stand up to Carolina, they'll need Ward and Stewart to play through pain and stay on the field Sunday. The Broncos come into this game with the NFL's top-ranked pass defense during regular season, averaging just 199.6 net passing yards allowed per game, with 52 sacks generated (first in the NFL), while allowing 19 passing scores vs. 14 interceptions (tied for 13th in the NFL). However, they have given up a surprising average of 301.5 net passing yards per game during the postseason, worst among teams in the playoffs, with one passing score and two interceptions surrendered so far - they've recorded seven sacks, third-most among the 12 playoff teams. Pittsburgh racked up yards in the Divisional Round (24/37 for 311 net yards passing), but didn't manage to throw for a single TD (zero TDs or interceptions thrown at Denver). Tom Brady attempted a whopping 56 passes at Denver two weeks ago (27/56 for 292 net yards passing, one TD and two interceptions thrown with four sacks taken for -18 yards) but watched his team lose 18-20 due to a missed two-point conversion. The Denver pass D isn't at the top of their collective game entering Super Bowl 50. Newton is hot, while the Broncos' pass defense hasn't been impressive of late, but dominated during regular season - this looks like a neutral matchup to us.

Recent Stats and Projections

17 vs TB 62 21 26 293 2 0 6 10 2 0 35.65
19 vs SEA 0 16 22 161 1 0 11 3 0 0 12.35
20 vs ARI 0 19 28 335 2 1 10 47 2 0 40.45
21 at DEN 0 18 41 265 0 1 6 45 0 2 14.75
21 at DEN PROJ-Dodds * 20 32 * * * 8 * * * *
21 at DEN PROJ-Tremblay * 19 32 * * * 9 * * * *
21 at DEN PROJ-Bloom * 18 29 * * * 10 * * * *

Recent Game Summaries

2015 Week 20 vs ARI (19 / 28 / 335 / 2 / 1 pass, 10 / 47 / 2 rush)

The "MVP" chants for Newton during yesterday's trophy presentation were as apt as all of the Superman commercials that aired during the game. Whichever label you prefer for the star Quarterback, it would be fitting. Cam was at his best on Sunday, in complete control of the offense and the game, almost casually picking apart one of the league's best defenses. The near-50 yards rushing, and the threat of it on any given play, is part of what makes Cam so dangerous, but what he did with his arm Sunday is what makes him truly great. Cam threw into tight windows and over the out-stretched fingers of defenders with ease on Sunday, surveying the field and connecting with open receivers at will. At times Cam zagged when the defense expected him to zig, but more often than not he simply overcame whatever the defense threw his way. Never was this more apparent than his quarterback-sneak goal-line touchdown (of which Sean Weatherspoon may still be celebrating the non-stop.) The unquestioned MVP of the regular season has raised his game to new heights in the playoffs, something all the greats are expected to do, and with one game separating him from his ultimate goal; it is hard to imagine Superman not soaring one more time.

2015 Week 19 vs SEA (16 / 22 / 161 / 1 / 0 pass, 11 / 3 / 0 rush)

Cam Newton took a backseat to the Panthers' ground game and defense as an early 14-0 lead allowed him to settle into the game. Newton played in control throughout the game, not taking unnecessary chances with the football and going through his reads quickly and efficiently. His distribution all over the field against the Seahawks' zones forced them to cover every blade of grass, but for the most part Newton kept his passes short, with Seattle intent on taking away the deep ball. Newton was afforded outstanding pass protection throughout the game, allowing him time to scan the field and buy time. This protection forced the Seahawks' zones to break down and as a result Newton was able to locate his targets. His lone touchdown pass of the game was a thing of beauty as he found Greg Olsen at the back of the end zone, the pass thrown high and away from the two defenders in the vicinity. Olsen reached up and snagged the ball impressively, but Newton fit it into a tight window with a perfect zipped pass to put the Panthers up 31-0. With the lead as it was, the offense took their foot off the gas in the second half, but Newton was still able to orchestrate some clock-eating drives. His decision-making was sound and he did not take any chances with the football, providing the Panthers a platform to finish the game. Despite being one of his less gaudy games of the season in terms of statistics, it was still one of his most efficient.

2015 Week 17 vs TB (21 / 26 / 293 / 2 / 0 pass, 6 / 10 / 2 rush)

After some early hiccups in pass protection, leading to back-to-back sacks, Cam Newton and the offense began to settle into a familiar rhythm. Newton was very sharp early on, firing passes on time and on target to a variety of receivers. A nonchalant flick of the wrist on a pass to Devin Funchess against the blitz was a thing of beauty, and a deep target for Corey Brown was dropped in the end zone and should have been a touchdown. Newton was in full control at the line of scrimmage, checking into better plays often and managing to draw the Buccaneers offside with his cadence. Newton made his fair share of questionable plays, but none of them involved turning the ball over; instead, it was a sack he shouldn't have taken and a poor play to pass the ball beyond the line of scrimmage on the option. Newton scored his first of two rushing touchdowns on a naked bootleg in the red zone, a play that has become a staple of Carolina's offense. No Buccaneers defender had a chance to close the gap on him once he got moving, and it proved to be an easy score. Newton produced a Houdini play on the next series, somehow escaping a sack and flicking the ball for a 41-yard catch and run to Funchess. The ball was tipped by a Buccaneers defender in flight, but it ended up in Funchess' hands. Newton's second rushing touchdown came on a quarterback sneak, after a straightforward drive by the offensive line at the 1-yard line. The MVP candidate did an excellent job with his first passing touchdown. Coming off a timeout, the Panthers lined up quickly and caught the Buccaneers off guard. This allowed Newton to quickly scan the field and find Jerricho Cotchery beyond the Buccaneers' last man in the secondary for a beautiful touchdown pass. The location of the ball to the back line of the end zone meant only Cotchery could have made the play. His second passing touchdown went to Funchess, who did an excellent job to gain separation on a quick slant, presenting a big target for Newton. Funchess caught the ball and dove for the goal line to finish the play. It was a polished display from Newton and the offense, who recovered well after the debacle in Atlanta.

2015 Week 16 vs ATL (17 / 30 / 142 / 0 / 0 pass, 7 / 46 / 1 rush)

Cam Newton endured a poor performance against Atlanta, who seemed to have an answer to the complex Carolina offense at every turn. All seemed to be clicking as usual on the opening drive, as Newton fired bullets to his receivers on time and got into a rhythm. With solid pass protection, he led the offense down inside the red zone and ran in for a touchdown on a staple play of this team, the quarterback draw. The offense never reached those heights again, being shut out for the remainder of the game. Pass rush began to affect Newton's footwork and he sailed a couple of passes that should have been easy completions. With Atlanta controlling time of possession, Newton and the offense were unable to capitalize on their opportunities, floundering when they would normally thrive. Newton was able to execute between the 20s, showing off his speed when needed and running the zone read to good effect. A third-and-10 scramble for a first down showed an incredible effort and fight from Newton, who had to have been hit about six times on the play, but refused to give in and fell forward, reaching the ball out. The downfield passing attack was simply not clicking, and Newton rarely even attempted any passes beyond 20 yards, such was the discipline of the Falcons defensive backs. In general, Carolina receivers seemed to struggle to get open, forcing Newton to run it himself or take the check-downs. Newton threw what appeared to be an interception on a forced pass to the right sideline; the defensive back caught it, but Corey Brown was on hand to break it up. The red zone inefficiencies apart from the opening drive and the lack of opportunities due to Atlanta's strong time of possession really hurt the rhythm of Newton and the offense. Even though they were afforded two opportunities to drive down the field and salvage the game in the final three minutes, they couldn't take them. Newton was strip-sacked to end the game after pressure off his right side. It was a rare toothless performance from a Carolina offense that had been a juggernaut for the past few weeks.

2015 Week 15 vs NYG (25 / 45 / 340 / 5 / 0 pass, 8 / 100 / 0 rush)

In another performance to strengthen his case for the MVP, Cam Newton produced a highly efficient outing against the Giants. At times he was off target on what appeared to be straightforward throws, notably on a deep shot to Ted Ginn Jr. Newton was afforded outstanding pass protection, with the Giants having to send extra blitzers to get close to him. They got home a couple of times, with Newton making a poor decision to try to pump fake Jason Pierre-Paul before the defensive end wrapped him up for a big loss. The majority of the game, however, Newton was able to scan the field and find his targets with precision passes. The running game was inconsistent without Jonathan Stewart, so Newton took matters into his own hands with a 47-yard run on a read option play early on. Newton took the football behind left guard and then defeated the angles of defenders to dash up the right sideline. It set the Panthers up for Newton's first touchdown pass of the game, a bullet to the back left corner of the end zone to Ted Ginn Jr. It was a simple read for the quarterback, who quickly saw that the safety had lost position on the speedy receiver. Newton's ability to escape the rush was a feature of the game; on several occasions, seeing nothing open downfield, he shrugged off pressure and got enough with his legs for the first down. Newton nearly had an ill-timed interception on a deep pass to Ginn, but fortunately his receiver broke it up at the last second. On another play, pressure came and leveled Newton, forcing a quicker release than he would have liked. The football looked to be going the other way for a pick six in the hands of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but the cornerback dropped it. Newton seemed to be favoring his shoulder after that play, absorbing a massive hit on the release. He looked none the worse for wear on his second touchdown pass, a beautifully designed play to get Greg Olsen open off naked boot action. Newton faked the run inside before booting right, but Olsen had faked a block and sneaked out on a corner route. The pass was lofted perfectly over the onrushing defenders and Olsen did the rest. With the game getting away from the Giants, Newton added a third touchdown pass to Devin Funchess right before half-time. Funchess' route was good and allowed Newton a nice window to fit the ball into, which he did with accuracy and pace. After a well-executed no huddle drive to begin the second half, Newton tossed his fourth touchdown pass to Corey Brown. The receiver ran a perfect 'sluggo' route, faking the defender inside before going deep; Newton's pass was perfect for Brown to run under, and the pump fake he executed to keep the safety out of the picture showed incredible awareness and ball-handling skill. The offense stagnated a bit in the third quarter, but Newton came back and fired a fifth touchdown pass to Ginn, audibling to a wide receiver screen after detecting a blitz pre-snap. Newton made the correct call and was able to quickly fire out to Ginn, who did the rest with good blocks downfield and blazing speed. The Giants clawed their way back into the contest with a late rally, with a fumble on a read option play for which Newton was primarily to blame the catalyst. With the game tied at 35 and only a little under two minutes to play, the unruffled Newton led the offense on a nice drive to set them up for the winning field goal. The performance encapsulated everything good - and frustrating - about Newton's game, but he managed to overcome the hits and register another five-touchdown display.

2015 Week 14 vs ATL (15 / 21 / 265 / 3 / 0 pass, 3 / 4 / 0 rush)

The league MVP candidate started off the contest as he finished the New Orleans one, firing precision passes and showing excellent command at the line of scrimmage. Cam Newton's accuracy in particular stood out in this game, as he peppered his targets his passes behind an offensive line that, for the most part, protected him well. Newton saw a lot of pressure off his front side, and at times had to escape. One escape act ended in a loss of 10 yards, as the quarterback tried to do too much instead of simply throwing the ball away. Undeterred by the occasional pressure, Newton fired a beautiful touch pass to Greg Olsen on a corner route to set the offense up for their first score, a short touchdown run for Jonathan Stewart. Sensing the chance to build a strong lead, Newton fired another peach of a pass to Ted Ginn Jr., who separated down the left sideline and hauled in a 74-yard touchdown pass. The ball was ideally placed for Ginn to run on to. Newton would go back to Ginn for his second touchdown pass, as the speedster bisected the Falcons' zone defense and got on top of the safeties, allowing Newton to lay the football into his path with another precision throw. Newton made it a trio of touchdown passes with another bullet pass, this time in the red zone. Turnover-free this season in this part of the field, Newton showed confidence as he fired a pass so that only his receiver, Ed Dickson, could catch it. Dickson's tremendous effort to dive for the football made it possible, but the football was placed perfectly. Newton was fortunate a pass intended for Devin Funchess was not intercepted after the rookie receiver appeared to be confused on the route. The Atlanta cornerback dropped the pass to the turf and could not make the play. Newton left the game for one play after appearing to hurt his hand, but showed no ill effects for the remainder of his time on the field. The coaching staff inserted Derek Anderson in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, but Newton set the table for what was another impressive performance.

2015 Week 13 vs NO (28 / 41 / 331 / 5 / 1 pass, 10 / 49 / 0 rush)

Cam Newton had to show a lot of guts and character to will his team to a victory against a Saints team that would not go away. It took five touchdown passes from the MVP candidate, who fought on despite sustaining what looked like a couple of bad injuries. On one play, he was bent back awkwardly and looked to have twisted his ankle; it seemed not to bother him the rest of the game. On another - what looked like a routine touchdown run - he was surprised to be hit on the top of the helmet by a Saints defender. Afforded good pass protection all day, Newton's day started off poorly with a bad decision to throw a pass to Ted Ginn in tight coverage. The cornerback had excellent position and the pass was simply not on; it was a simple play for the defender to make. The play seemed to affect him, as he missed Greg Olsen and Ginn on deep shots that looked like easy completions. A 30-yard run on a naked bootleg on fourth-and-short seemed to restore his confidence, as he quickly followed it up with a touchdown toss to Mike Tolbert in the flat. The Saints sent an all-out blitz, but Newton kept his cool and took the easy completion for the score. Newton showed excellent pocket presence against a heavy rush to step away and find tight end Ed Dickson down the sideline. On several occasions Newton's receivers let him down, most notably on a deep shot to Ginn, who simply dropped the ball. However, the speedster made up for his error with a pair of touchdown grabs. The first came on a go route in the red zone. The Saints blew a coverage assignment and let Ginn run free, allowing Newton to fizz a pass into him. The second came on a deep crossing pattern. Once again, the Saints coverage left a lot to be desired, but Newton's pass was such that only Ginn could have made the play. Newton continued to fight and notched a touchdown pass on a nicely lofted option pitch to Jonathan Stewart. After faking an inside give to Tolbert, Newton moved out left. The Saints defenders honed in on the quarterback, so it was a simple toss out to his back for the score. Newton's fourth touchdown pass went to rookie Devin Funchess, who got an excellent release and ran a quick slant; the pass was fired in with venom into a tiny window. Newton will have been disappointed with his continued spotty accuracy as he missed a simple would-be touchdown pass on a post route to Corey Brown. Shaking off the cobwebs, Newton led a terrific go-ahead touchdown drive, capped by a strike in the back of the end zone to Jerricho Cotchery. It was an excellent read by Newton, who had to go through his progressions before finding his old reliable. The final drive included another game-saving play from Newton, who had to escape pressure and roll left to find Greg Olsen on fourth down to keep the game alive. It was an imperfect day from Newton as a passer, but ultimately his play was the difference.

2015 Week 12 vs DAL (16 / 27 / 183 / 0 / 0 pass, 12 / 45 / 1 rush)

Feeding off the turnovers from the defense, Cam Newton and the Carolina offense played with a ruthless efficiency in the early stages, getting Newton comfortable with zone read runs and quick passing to Greg Olsen. Newton benefited from outstanding pass protection throughout the game, and it was most evident on two pinpoint downfield throws on third-and-long. Showing excellent patience in the pocket, Newton found Jerricho Cotchery on both attempts with terrific bullet passes. Another outstanding throw came on a seam pass to Olsen, who got inside his defender, but it was the accuracy of the pass from Newton that allowed his tight end to make a catch to both secure the football and protect himself. With a comfortable half-time lead to build on, Newton will be disappointed with his red zone play; he had three consecutive pass attempts inside the five-yard line fall incomplete, but Dallas' defensive backs deserve credit for making good plays on the ball. Newton made a poor error that he has committed several times before, retreating from pressure and getting sacked for a loss of about 15 yards. The play put the offense in 4th and 40 territory, when Newton could simply have thrown the ball away to preserve field position. Despite the overall struggles of the offense, Newton punctuated his day with a rushing touchdown inside the five-yard line. Dropping back and quickly surveying his options, Newton determined none of his receivers were open and weaved his way into the end zone, reaching the ball across the plane. The game script played a large part in the lack of passing attempts for Newton, but despite some missteps along the way by the offense, he did an excellent job keeping them on schedule with pinpoint passing and, on the whole, smart plays.

2015 Week 11 vs WAS (21 / 34 / 246 / 5 / 0 pass, 4 / 16 / 0 rush)

It turned into a banner day for Cam Newton, who managed to produce his first career five-touchdown pass performance despite starting off slowly. The offense sputtered with an early three-and-out, as the line struggled to pick up Washington's extra blitzers. Newton would quickly find his rhythm and fired on-time strikes to his receivers to set up a red zone opportunity. Off a quick play fake to Jonathan Stewart, Newton fired a pass to his back in the right flat and he did the rest. Newton produced a near replica of that touchdown pass later when he hit Mike Tolbert for the score. Newton showed terrific command of the offense, executing audibles at the line and using dummy snap counts to force the Redskins into revealing their play. Newton's hard count also got the Redskins to jump offsides five times. Newton did not have to use his legs except on a couple of scrambles when nothing was open downfield, and he did this to good effect. On one play, however, he tried to do too much and should have simply thrown the ball away. Instead, he took a 12-yard loss on a sack. Newton consistently found his targets his precision passing, with a beautiful touch pass to Greg Olsen on an intermediate crossing pattern the pick of the bunch. He was fortunate not be intercepted on a target for Jerricho Cotchery at the back of the end zone. Cotchery could have hauled it in, but allowed it to hit off his shoulder pads, sending the ball into the air. Fortunately it fell onto the turf and not into a Washington player's hands. Set up in the red zone, Newton fired his third touchdown pass to Ted Ginn after having to scramble and buy extra time. Feeling the rush, Newton rolled right and found Ginn with a bullet pass at the back of the end zone. Newton continued to see the field clearly and fired his fourth touchdown pass to Olsen in the red zone. Newton used his eyes to look left before coming straight back to his tight end on the skinny post for the score. With the game well in hand, Newton found rookie Devin Funchess for his fifth touchdown pass after being set up inside the five-yard line, firing the pass high and away from the defensive back in coverage. The ball location meant only Funchess could have made the play. It was a clean, efficient game from Newton, who continues to thrive in this offense that he has made his own.

2015 Week 10 vs TEN (21 / 26 / 217 / 1 / 0 pass, 9 / 23 / 1 rush)

It was obvious from early on that Cam Newton had emphasised mechanics in practice after last week's scattershot display against the Packers. From the first play, Newton was decisive and accurate with his passes, placing them in the perfect position for his receivers. Newton completed his first 11 passes and riffed with Greg Olsen on several timing completions to kick the offense into gear. Against a four-man rush, Newton had ample time to survey the field and picked apart the Titans defense. However, a second-half adjustment to more exotic blitzes featuring stunts and twists up front caused havoc for the Panthers offensive line. Newton was sacked a season-high five times and took a few nasty hits as the game wore on. Along the way he made some poor decisions that cost his team field position, opting not to throw the football away and hold it just a beat too long on certain plays. The indecision led to sacks and killed offensive positions before they had a chance to get going. When the Panthers had a rhythm in the first half, Newton tossed his lone touchdown pass of the game, a short pass to the back left pylon to Ed Dickson off a hard play action fake. With the offense set up with first-and-goal at the Tennessee 1, the fake could not have been executed any better and Dickson was uncovered. In the second half, Newton was forced to run for his life at times but to his credit did not force throws downfield to put his team in a bad position. After weathering the storm, Newton returned to some shorter completions to offset the blitz and had success throwing to Ted Ginn in particular. Newton provided the exclamation point for a hard-fought victory with a rushing touchdown late. Set up at the Tennessee 1, he allowed his blocks to develop and reached across the pylon for the score, extending his arm all the way. It was sloppy at times for Newton, but this came down more to the Panthers' inability to deal with the Titans' blitzes and less to Newton's mistakes.

2015 Week 9 vs GB (15 / 30 / 297 / 3 / 1 pass, 9 / 57 / 1 rush)

It did not always look pretty, but that has summed up the modus operandi of Cam Newton this season: by any means necessary. A steady start from the offense saw Newton lead the team down the field for an early field goal, punctuated by a ridiculous one-handed grab in the flat from Greg Olsen. Newton used a sidearm delivery on the play to get the football past a leaping pass rusher, and the tactic proved an effective weapon in his arsenal against the Packers. Newton was in full control at the line of scrimmage, changing plays and protections on a regular basis. The offensive line afforded him terrific protection throughout, giving him a clean pocket to step into and picking up blitzers very effectively. Newton had to step up and out of the pocket for a 59-yard completion to Jerricho Cotchery early, as the veteran receiver found a soft spot in the Packers' zone coverage. The play showed good feel by Newton in the pocket. On the Panthers' second possession, Newton called his own number at the goal line, leaping and extending the football across the plane. His connection with Devin Funchess seems to be developing nicely, and the two connected on a 52-yard completion down the seam with a beautiful pass. Newton saw Funchess late, but trusted his rookie receiver to go up and make a play on the ball. That play set up a red zone opportunity which Newton converted with a short pass over the middle to Greg Olsen. Olsen was allowed a free release off the line, and it proved to be too easy for Newton, who had only to pop it to him for the score. Some inconsistencies began to creep into Newton's game as the half wore on; he missed Olsen for what would have been a touchdown on a seam pass, and showed poor footwork on a quick slant to Ted Ginn. Newton's second touchdown pass went to Corey Brown, who showed good speed to get on top of his defensive back, giving Newton a wide area to throw the ball into. He laid the pass into the air with good arc and Brown was able to haul it in for the 39-yard score. Newton's inaccuracy bit him later, as he missed Cotchery for what should have been a simple touchdown in the red zone on a quick out. Undeterred, Newton tossed his third touchdown pass of the game when the Panthers had their next red zone opportunity. Firing a pass between the numbers, Newton found his rookie receiver Funchess on a quick slant, and the rookie did the rest and bulled his way into the end zone. Newton made what could have been a critical error late in the game, leaving a sideline pass to Ted Ginn too far inside and allowing the cornerback to intercept it. The Packers were unable to capitalize and tie the game, but Newton escaped with one on that particular play.

2015 Week 8 vs IND (16 / 35 / 248 / 2 / 1 pass, 10 / 41 / 0 rush)

In sloppy conditions at Bank of America Stadium, Cam Newton did not put forth his finest effort. The Panthers put an emphasis on designed running plays early on to help Newton settle down, but the Colts marshaled them well and refused to allow Carolina to establish a rushing attack. Newton showed good body lean and power on an early fourth-down conversion, barreling over linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. Newton's legs came to the fore on a ridiculous, Houdini-esque escape from the pocket in the third quarter. With the Colts sending pressure and the pocket collapsing, Newton spun before dodging a would-be tackler and breaking the pocket, outrunning a chasing defender and falling forward for a first down. Newton showed outstanding pocket presence at times too, but his best play came on a dump-off pass to Mike Tolbert. Once again facing pressure, he stepped up in the pocket and had the presence of mind to flick a pass out to his full-back. At times, however, his footwork let him down, in particular on a deep pass intercepted by the Colts. Newton failed to step into the throw, allowing two Colts defenders to converge on the pass intended for Ted Ginn Jr. Newton also turned the ball over on a fumbled exchange with backup center Fernando Velasco, pulling out too soon and letting the football go loose. Newton would redeem himself with a pair of touchdown passes in the second half, the first to Greg Olsen on a seam pattern. After a well-executed play fake, Newton floated a nice pass for Olsen where only he could make the play. Newton's second touchdown pass came in the red zone, another pass of excellent touch and placement to Corey Brown, who had run a nice corner route and gained a little separation. In overtime, Newton almost got intercepted for a second time - and what could have been a crucial one - but Vontae Davis dropped his lofted pass to the middle of the field. After that near-miss, Newton got another opportunity and would have finished the game in style with a walk-off touchdown pass if not for an egregious drop by Ted Ginn, who had gotten free on a deep pattern. It was a mature, if uneven, performance from Newton, who coped well enough with the conditions and made enough plays from the pocket to pull out a victory.

2015 Week 7 vs PHI (14 / 24 / 197 / 1 / 3 pass, 4 / 20 / 1 rush)

Despite throwing three interceptions, Cam Newton did not play a poor game per se, and in fact could have performed better were it not for a series of scattershot passes. Newton was unfortunate for his first interception; throwing a fast ball to Ted Ginn Jr. on a quick slant route, the ball was ripped out of Ginn's hands and fell kindly into the Eagles defender's hands. Unfazed by the early pick, Newton kept firing and excelled at finding his targets off read option. However, his footwork tended to let him down at times and he fired a handful of high passes, including one to Ted Ginn that would have resulted in an easy first down on third down. Newton managed the pocket well, but his offensive line kept him clean for the majority of the game, allowing him to survey his options. The Eagles secondary did an excellent job in coverage, so Newton and the offense leaned on the running game for the most part. Newton used his legs to punch the football into the end zone in the second quarter, executing the read option to perfection and reaching the ball over the plane of the goal line for the score. Newton continued to fire errant passes and had one towards the sideline that could easily have gone the other way for six points. A handful of plays later, Newton thought he had Fozzy Whittaker on a flair out pass to the right sideline, but the pass was brilliantly undercut by Malcolm Jenkins after it initially appeared as though Whittaker had the ball. It was a poor decision by Newton - late and to the outside - but an even better play by Jenkins. Once the Panthers went to the no-huddle in the second half, Newton settled down and picked his targets out with precision. Set up on the 1-yard line, Newton faked an inside run to Stewart before flipping a quick pass out to Mike Tolbert, who did the rest. Just as it seemed the Panthers offense were about to put the game to bed, Newton tossed his third interception on another unfortunate play. Targeting Devin Funchess on a dig route, Newton left the pass too high; the ball tipped off Funchess' hands and landed in the midriff of an Eagles defender. It was not the cleanest game of Newton's career, and his usual issues with footwork showed up again, but a strong rushing attack and a defensive masterclass masked his deficiencies this week.

2015 Week 6 vs SEA (20 / 36 / 269 / 1 / 2 pass, 7 / 30 / 1 rush)

After a stuttering start punctuated by bouts of stubborn defense from the Seahawks, Cam Newton saved the best for last and produced one of his finest second halves in his five-year career. Newton struggled to find his rhythm early on, as the offense leaned on Jonathan Stewart and a controlled, play-action centric game plan. Targeting Jerricho Cotchery on an in-breaking route in the first quarter, Newton threw a poor interception, his eyes giving away the intended receiver and allowing a Seahawks defender to undercut it. Undeterred, Newton and the offense continued to live on scraps, feeding off Stewart and Newton as ball carriers. The Panthers' first touchdown drive culminated in a Newton quarterback keeper. Lined up at the Seattle 1-yard line, Newton ran behind a convoy of blockers off right tackle, with a trips bunch of receivers pitching in with some nice seal blocks. It was an easy scamper into the end zone. The offensive line consistently gave Newton time to survey the field, and he wisely took what the Seahawks were giving him, at times adjusting his throwing motion to an unorthodox sidearm delivery to fit the football into tight windows. The protection let Newton down on his second interception, as Cliff Avril managed to get a hand on Newton as he was about to release the ball, intended deep for Ted Ginn who was open on the play. Instead, the pressure forced a lofty pass into centre field, where Kam Chancellor picked it off. Trailing by 10 points in the third quarter, the Panthers turned to the no huddle. Newton excelled in the up-tempo offense, managing to fight the crowd noise to communicate effectively with his receivers and settle into the game a bit more. Newton led two more touchdown drives, both culminating in Stewart short touchdown runs, but it was Newton's poise and patience that gave the Panthers a chance. Newton produced a strong fourth quarter display and found Greg Olsen in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown on a beautifully floated seam pass. The Seahawks had communication issues on the play, allowing Olsen to run free. Newton held the single high safety with his eyes, before chucking a dart to his tight end. In a mature, efficient display, Newton continued to make a lot of a less than inspiring supporting cast to pull out a victory.

2015 Week 4 vs TB (11 / 22 / 124 / 2 / 0 pass, 12 / 51 / 0 rush)

It was yet another quietly efficient performance from Cam Newton despite erratic weather in Tampa. The fifth-year quarterback continues to exude a level of confidence and poise that until this season has been the exception rather than the rule. After an early defensive touchdown set the Panthers up with a 10-0 lead, Newton made good decisions with the football and in the pocket, keeping his team in manageable down and distance situations. Incorporating designed rushes with play action passes off zone read principles, Newton settled into the game quickly. Showing good command at the line of scrimmage, Newton was able to decipher late shifts in the Tampa Bay defense, something he took advantage of for his first of two touchdown passes to Ted Ginn Jr. Spotting the cornerback to Ginn's side playing off man coverage with a five-yard cushion near the goal line, Newton took the snap and without hesitation fired a quick out to Ginn, who toe-tapped for the score. The pass was another example of the improved decision-making and poise shown by Newton this season. With the game under control heading into the third quarter, Newton fell foul of the wet conditions, fumbling the football on a straightforward exchange with Jonathan Stewart. It caromed into the right flat off another Panther limb and was recovered by Tampa Bay; fortunately for Carolina and Newton, it resulted in no points. Using that near-miss as a platform to take the game by the scruff of the neck, Newton led a methodical drive, culminating in his second touchdown pass. Set up in the red zone, Newton found Ginn on a shallow crossing route, with the underneath Tampa Bay defender completely losing track on the speedy receiver. The ball was delivered perfectly in stride for Ginn to finish off. Newton avoided near disaster on the preceding play, however, tossing a pass late to the right which was telegraphed by Bucs linebacker Lavonte David. David's attempt at the interception was unsuccessful as the ball somehow came loose and hit off his knee, sparing Newton's blushes. Newton showed a controlled aggression even with the game well in hand and could have added another touchdown to Devin Funchess, only for the rookie to drop the football on a simple slant pattern in the end zone. Newton has taken his game to a new level through four games, showing a level of on-field maturity and wisdom that will keep this offense ticking over despite the dearth of weapons available.

2015 Week 3 vs NO (20 / 31 / 315 / 2 / 0 pass, 7 / 33 / 1 rush)

In a performance indicative of the steady progress he has made since entering the league, Cam Newton hardly put a foot wrong against a Saints defense that offered little resistance. Newton was in full command at the line of scrimmage, checking into more favorable plays and protections. Afforded outstanding protection from his offensive line, Newton got comfortable quickly and began picking his targets with precision. A beautiful seam pass was the pick of his early throws, the football landing exactly where it needed to be for Greg Olsen to make a one-handed snag. Continuing to use the zone read option to create more defined reads in the passing attack, Newton peppered his receivers and relied on his arm rather than his legs to power the Panthers offense. Newton did, however, produce one incredible scramble for a first down. Under pressure against a four-man rush, Newton faded back into the pocket and tried to buy time to throw downfield. Seeing that no one was open, he made a swift juke move on a defender and bullied his way forward to the sticks. The connection and chemistry with Olsen was back in full swing, with Newton finding his favorite target time and again against a hapless Saints defense that seemed to have no answers. After having a touchdown pass taken off the board only two plays earlier for offensive pass interference, Newton found Olsen with a bullet pass on the goal line. The football was thrown low and away from the three defenders in the vicinity, and Olsen's strong hands reeled it in. Going back to the well for his second touchdown, Newton and Olsen connected on an almost identical route and pass. Newton faked the inside give on the zone read before Olsen found some room between two Saints defenders, posted up on the goal line with his back to the defense. Newton duly obliged with a perfectly placed ball. The icing on the cake for Newton came in the fourth quarter. Set up in the red zone, Newton audibled to a naked bootleg keeper. Faking a run behind the right guard, Newton pulled the ball and coasted into the end zone, keeping the pursuing defenders honest with a pump fake. It was a game unblemished by the usual inconsistencies from Newton, who enjoyed perhaps the finest game of his career thus far.

2015 Week 2 vs HOU (18 / 37 / 195 / 2 / 1 pass, 10 / 76 / 1 rush)

Cam Newton rolled back the years against the Texans, relying on his craftiness as a runner to keep the Panthers offense on schedule. The zone read package was central to the game plan against a ferocious Houston front seven that seemed to live on the other side of the line of scrimmage all game long. Newton did not respond well to the constant pressure applied, sailing a few passes and almost having a handful telegraphed by Houston defenders. His footwork appeared to be rushed in the face of the heat applied up front, with the offensive line struggling to sustain their blocks. The Panthers countered with some max protect looks, allowing Newton more time to see the field. He responded with some precision throws to favorite target Greg Olsen, allowing him to get into a rhythm. His first touchdown pass came against a single-high look from Houston. Newton held the high safety with his eyes, anticipating Ted Ginn Jr. to come open on a double move down the left sideline. Ginn did his part, and Newton floated a beautiful pass to his receiver in stride for the score. When the Panthers' next red zone opportunity arose, Newton made no mistake on an acrobatic quarterback draw. Center Ryan Kalil made an excellent seal block on Vince Wilfork, allowing Newton the running lane. Instead of diving low, however, he skied above the closing safety and managed to stick the landing for the score. The Panthers offense struggled to maintain the momentum and seemed to wilt as the game went on, unable to run the football effectively. On a sudden change after an A.J. Klein interception, the offense got the short field they needed to put the dagger in. Newton, once again spotting a single high look defensively, knew he had Corey Brown on the skinny post. Brown's excellent route allowed him separation for Newton to float a pass high into his waiting hands for the touchdown. Despite the pair of touchdowns, it was an off day for Newton as a passer. A screen pass floated to the left flat was floated far too high and nearly intercepted; a target on a quick slant to Devin Funchess was undercut by rookie cornerback Kevin Johnson, while an interception was taken off the board by a defensive penalty. Newton's lone interception was unlucky, as a pass directed at Kevin Norwood was tipped into the air by the receiver, landing in the hands of the roving safety. It was not the cleanest display from Newton and the Panthers offense, but it was an effective one nonetheless.

2015 Week 1 vs JAX (18 / 31 / 175 / 1 / 1 pass, 14 / 35 / 0 rush)

In a controlled performance by the offense, Cam Newton managed to keep things ticking over. The Panthers leaned heavily on zone read concepts and option plays to settle Newton down, something offensive coordinator Mike Shula has done often in the past. Buoyed by a strong ground game that kept Newton in manageable third down situations, he was able to pick his targets early. The use of two tight end sets provided Newton with extra time to survey the defense, but often he held the football a beat too long and gave the Jaguars defense a chance to sack or hit him. As the game wore on, however, he began to see the field with more clarity and smartly checked the football down to Jonathan Stewart or other outlets. An early red zone trip was scuppered after a good looking floated pass to Greg Olsen was ruled out by the officials for offensive pass interference. Undeterred, Newton was able to string together a nice drive that culminated in his lone touchdown strike of the game to Jerricho Cotchery. Newton fired a precision pass to his receiver on a skinny post pattern, whistling it past the earhole of the linebacker in coverage. The accuracy of the pass gave the defense no chance. Newton did not spot the linebacker in coverage on his interception, however. He tried to float a pass over the top of Paul Posluszny, but it lacked the height and accuracy it needed; Posluszny did the rest. Newton used his legs when he had to, and converted a pair of important third downs with some creative scrambling. Newton will have been pleased with the quality of his pass protection overall, but there are still some kinks to be worked out in this offense.


Latest News

Panthers | Cam Newton expected to be at OTAs (Thu Apr 21, 01:23 PM) - Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera expects QB Cam Newton to be on the field for the start of organized team activities Monday, April 25.

Our View: It's going to be a long season for Newton, who had an awful interview after his Super Bowl loss and has been dissected since. He's going to be under an intense spotlight and how he handles it will mean everything to the Panthers' chances to make a repeat appearance. We're hoping for the best, but concerned the pressure could get to him.
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