QB Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
HT: 6-5, WT: 248, Born: 5-10-1989, College: Auburn, Drafted: Round 1, Pick 1
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Average draft position
Current as of August 25th. [Full ADP list]Overall: J Witten (65), M Ryan (66), Cam Newton (67), J Edelman (68), J Maclin (69)
Position: N Foles (60-QB7), M Ryan (66-QB8), Cam Newton (67 - QB9), R Griffin III (70-QB10), C Kaepernick (74-QB11)
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Though Cam Newton didn't fulfill the lofty expectations of many fantasy owners during 2013, he still finished as the sixth-best fantasy quarterback in the NFL due to his combination of passing (292/473 for 3,379 yards passing, 24 TDs and 13 interceptions thrown) and rushing (111/585/6) abilities. There was a drop-off in his frequency rushing the football, going from 126 and 127 rushes during his first two seasons to 111 last year, and also a drop in his average yards-per-carry (to 5.3 yards per rush), but he still remains one of the premier dual-threat quarterbacks in the NFL. Nobody complains about 5.3 yards per rush at this level, friends. Newton has finished as a top-five fantasy quarterback twice during his three-year career (in 2011 and 2012), with a sixth-place finish during 2013 as noted above. The biggest concern for Newton entering 2013 is the same as ever - a dearth of quality wide receivers to throw the football at during regular season. Steve Smith, the anchor of this receiving corps for many years, is now a Raven after being released in the offseason, leaving a depth chart that lacks a headline playmaker. Ancients Jerricho Cotchery (he'll be 32 when regular season starts) and Jason Avant (31 years old as of April 20, 2014) are currently on top of the depth chart. Cotchery did grab 10 TDs for Pittsburgh last season (76 targets for 46/602/10) but he had a grand total of two receiving TDs during his prior two seasons with the Steelers. Avant managed around 50 receptions per season at his peak with his previous NFL team, the Eagles, from 2010-2012 - but he finished 2013 with 76 targets for 38/447/2 receiving, a 50% reception percentage. Tiquan Underwood, the current #3 wideout, hit his career high-water mark during 2012 while with Tampa Bay (14 games played yielding 55 targets for 28/425/2 receiving), managing 46 targtes for 24/440/0 over 12 games with Tampa last year. As you can see, the supporting cast at wide receiver doesn't bode well for a sudden spike in Newton's passing numbers during 2014. Newton does have a solid tight end in Greg Olsen (a career-high 111 targets for 73/816/6 receiving last year), and Ed Dickson (43 targets for 25/273/1 receiving last season) joined the Panthers from Baltimore to provide an experienced #2 tight end - perhaps they'll be able to do enough in two-tight-end personnel packages to partially offset the mediocre wide receiving corps. Any excitement that fantasy owners feel about the Panther's wide receivers' stable is provided by their first draft pick, Kelvin Benjamin, selected at 1.28. There is a wide range of opinions about Benjamin's readiness to be a pro receiver - some feel his size and leaping abilities will make him a favorite target of Newton, while others fret about Benjamin's lack of polished route running and his tendency to drop catchable balls. We'll see what sort of chemistry Newton is able to create with Benjamin during the preseason.
|1||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|4||at Baltimore Ravens|
|6||at Cincinnati Bengals|
|7||at Green Bay Packers|
|9||New Orleans Saints|
|10||at Philadelphia Eagles|
|13||at Minnesota Vikings|
|14||at New Orleans Saints|
|15||Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|17||at Atlanta Falcons|
|19||at Seattle Seahawks|
2013 Game Summaries
Week 1 - Although the box score numbers may not reflect it, Cam Newton produced as poised and patient a display as he has ever had against the Seattle defense. Newton settled into a rhythm early, finding success off play action and converting a pair of third downs with crisp, accurate passes. Newton was let down on a couple of occasions by tight end Greg Olsen, notably on a well-thrown seam pattern that Olsen dropped as he fell to the ground. New offensive coordinator Mike Shula kept things fairly close to the line of scrimmage and many of Newton's passes were 15 yards or less, but there were a few deep shots, including a seam pass to Brandon LaFell which was thrown a few yards too far ahead, which stood out. Newton's decision-making was the highlight of the game; apart from a late throw to the sideline that was close to being intercepted, he was safe with the football. Under duress, Newton was impressive, stepping up and out of the pocket when he had to and finding his checkdown when required. Newton was not used only a drop back passer; he kept drives alive with designed runs. Newton capped off a solid performance with a touchdown pass in the red zone to favorite target Steve Smith. Smith found separation on a shallow cross and Newton showed great patience to wait for his receiver to come open, doing an even better job rifling the pass in between defenders.
Week 2 - It was a solid start on the day for Newton, connecting on three of his first four passes for a total of 49 yards. Carolina’s first drive was derailed, however, when pressure from Buffalo’s defensive line sacked Newton for a loss of six. On the subsequent play, Newton was looking for Brandon LaFell on a 10 yard curl route, but Cam must not have seen LB Kiko Alonso, who was in perfect position to undercut the route, and come away with the drive-ending interception. Newton had four rushes on the day, the first of which coming on a read-option keeper for two yards. On the subsequent play, his receivers were well covered, and he decided to take off on a scramble for six yards, setting up third and two. The drive ended on the very next play, Newton being unable to find a receiver, resulting in a sack for Mario Williams, who stuffed the stat sheet for Buffalo with 4.5 sacks. Carolina’s third drive ended, still scoreless, when Newton’s third down pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. The scoring draught continued for Carolina, as on their fourth series, needing nine for the first down, Newton severely overthrew Steve Smith on a 15-yard dig route. Yet another scoreless drive ended when Mario Williams took down Newton in the middle of the pocket for his third sack of the first half. Finally, on the two-minute drive before the end of the first half, Newton and company were able to move the ball down the field on Buffalo’s defense, finishing with a thirteen yard touchdown to Greg Olsen, and putting points on the scoreboard for the first time. Newton was sacked on yet another third down by, you guessed it, Mario Williams. Williams showed excellent pad level, beating his man around the edge for his fourth sack of the game. A drive helped by defensive holding on the following punt, Carolina was able to move the ball effectively before Newton connected deep up the left sideline to a wide open Ted Ginn. Receivers had been running past their defensive backs a few times on the day, but this was the first time that Newton and the Panthers were able to capitalize. On a drive given new life by a Buffalo personal foul, Newton made a regrettable decision, throwing to WR Armanti Edwards, when a DB broke on the pass and almost picked it off for six. The drive ended on the next play when Newton once again overshot an open Ted Ginn up the right sideline. Cam pounded one up the middle into a cloud of dust for three yards, picking up the first down and taking the ball to the Buffalo four. Cam tried to buy some time on third down, but was eventually sacked once again by Mario Williams near the right sideline, causing the Panthers to settle for another field goal. On a key third down with five minutes left in the game, Newton didn’t see anything he liked downfield and scrambled toward the left side of the field for four yards. There were some promising signs from Newton on the day, as there usually are, but on Sunday in Buffalo, Cam once again left you wanting more. Whether it was the inefficiency on third downs, or the trend of overthrowing his open wide receivers down the field, Newton and the Carolina passing offense could have done more to seal this game. One may question the decision to kick the field goal up three with 1:38 left in the game, but overall, this football game was lost in the earlier stages. Carolina had plenty of chances to put points on the board, but they came away one point short. The offensive line pass protected fairly well, receivers did their jobs, and although the running game was very average, this loss is shouldered by Cam.
Week 3 - Despite an uneasy start taking an unnecessary sack and throwing an ill-advised pass to Steve Smith on a dig route, Cam Newton rebounded nicely to lead his team to a victory on home turf. The Panthers wasted no time in unleashing their most potent offensive weapon, calling designed runs for Newton to use his speed and athleticism. Newton and the Panthers surprised the Giants with some triple option looks whereby Newton would either give or keep on an inside handoff to Tolbert, and had the option to run himself or pitch to DeAngelo Williams on the boundary. This seemed to spark Newton into life; he came just a few yards short of the goal line after an inverted veer keeper run in the first half. Under pressure, Newton threw a slow pass to the sideline intended for Brandon LaFell. LaFell failed to come back to the football when running his deep comeback and the cornerback was able to step in front for the pick. It was an ambitious throw for Newton to attempt from the far hash, but LaFell was just as much to blame. After the pick, Newton rebounded in impressive fashion, tossing three touchdown passes. Targeting LaFell once again, Newton lofted a beautiful pass to the back left pylon as his receiver ran a corner route. The ball was placed so that only LaFell could catch it. Newton displayed excellent touch on the pass. The quarterback went back to the same receiver for his second touchdown pass. With LaFell running a shortened streak pattern out of a bunch set, Newton spotted the defensive back turning his back and timed his pass perfectly to LaFell, hitting him right between the numbers. A comfortable Newton, with little pressure coming from the Giants' pass rush, found Ted Ginn Jr. streaking down the middle of the field to record his third touchdown. The single high safety, who had deep third responsibility in Cover 3, bit on an underneath pattern, allowing Ginn to breeze past the cornerback, who had no help over the top. Newton placed the football right in Ginn's stride with incredible touch and accuracy. With the game in hand, Newton's number was called on the goal line and he obliged by ducking his head and powering home to the end zone. In Newton's most impressive performance of this young season, his touch, timing and the return of the option attack that served him so well in his first two seasons were key.
Week 5 - A poised Cam Newton was afforded good protection early and was firing bullet passes into his receivers with a high degree of accuracy. Newton was not daunted by the prospect of Patrick Peterson covering his top target Steve Smith, firing a pass into his receiver on a crucial third down in the end zone early on, only to see it dropped. With offensive coordinator Mike Shula sticking to some pistol and options looks, Newton got into an early rhythm. However, the pressure began to build and the Cardinals' front seven took control of proceedings. Arizona used Daryl Washington as a spy on Newton, keeping him in the pocket and chasing him down when the quarterback looked for an escape route. The Panthers offensive line struggled to keep out the Cardinals as they sent blitz after blitz. Newton targeted Smith on a deep route down the right sideline as the half came to a close, but the pass was underthrown and Peterson picked it off. Newton followed that error up with a costly red zone interception in the fourth quarter. Newton looked for Smith on the slant route, but Newton's nemesis on the day Daryl Washington stepped in front. If not for Newton chasing Washington down, it could have been a pick six. On the play, Newton was looking for Smith the entire way and likely did not see Washington dropping into coverage. On a day the Panthers' offensive line was overwhelmed by a swarming defensive front, Newton added a third pick in the final moments, the ball fluttering into Karlos Dansby's hands after pressure up the middle knocked the ball out of Newton's grasp. What had started as an in-control display by Newton quickly turned into an error-strewn one; much of the credit has to go to Arizona's unforgiving defense that gave Carolina's pass protection fits, but Newton's errors were costly.
Week 6 - After an early scare with a near-interception on the first play from scrimmage, Cam Newton settled into the game quickly and soon found his rhythm. With his offensive line giving him enough time to set his feet and scan the field, Newton was able to find his receivers with accurate, zipped passes. There was a steady dose of the designed runs that Newton thrives on as well, as Mike Shula continues to take the shackles off what was labelled as a conservative offense in the first couple of weeks of the season. Newton put his legs to good use early on as he escaped a Vikings defender's clutches, bounding around left end for a key first down. Newton made good decisions throughout and showed excellent poise when the Vikings brought extra rushers, as they did on his first touchdown pass, a one-yard hook up with Steve Smith. Smith ran a shallow cross out of a bunched receiver set and Newton kept his poise ñ absorbing a hit for his troubles ñ as he released the pass for the touchdown. With a steady dose of the ground game to help him out and keep the Vikings' rushers honest, Newton added a second touchdown pass, albeit an unconventional one, on the Panthers' next trip to the red zone. Newton took the snap and went to sprint right, but instead flipped the ball to Mike Tolbert, who was crossing in front of him. The bruising power back did the rest to give Newton his second touchdown pass. The third came as a result of some poor play in the Vikings' secondary, but Newton did well to re-set his feet after initially feeling the rush to find his target Brandon LaFell. The routes run by Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell confused the Vikings secondary, and Newton needed only to loft a pass out to LaFell, who did the rest himself ñ with the help of a de-cleating block by Ted Ginn. In a smart performance by Newton, he added a fourth touchdown on the ground to make it 28-3, shrugging off a defender and getting loose for a seven-yard run when the Panthers were once again set up in the red zone. The improved play of the offensive line was a big factor in Newton's success as they gave up only one sack.
Week 7 - In another highly efficient, error-free performance, Cam Newton continued to show a maturity that has been a feature of his season. What stood out most was Newton's pinpoint accuracy. Even when his receivers were well covered on his first read, he would calmly go through his progressions and fire lasers to a spot where the defensive back in coverage had no chance to jump the route or make a play on the ball. In general, the Panthers' offensive line gave Newton time to throw, but the Rams' front four proved troublesome at times, forcing Newton to use his legs. He did just that to good effect on a few occasions, running for first downs and making tacklers miss. Compared to previous weeks, there was less emphasis on the designed quarterback run in Mike Shula's game plan. Newton's lone touchdown pass came on a beautifully executed pass to Steve Smith in the red zone. Newton had to wait for Smith to come open as he crossed the formation, but a brave Newton stood in the pocket with a rusher in his face and delivered a beautiful pass to the outside. Smith duly converted for the score. Although not a dynamic, multi-touchdown performance, this was another example of Newton's progression as a poised pocket passer.
Week 8 - A thriving Cam Newton oozed with confidence throughout this contest against the winless Buccaneers, carrying forward his momentum from his last two games. In another clean performance with no turnovers, Newton's poise in the pocket, accuracy and running ability stood out. Unlike his first two seasons, Newton is no longer making decisions that hurt the team, instead making the smart play. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula has integrated a few designed runs into the offense that Newton is, for the most part, executing well. Option pitches, the inverted veer and designed runs between the tackles are just a few of the wrinkles that Newton is excelling at. As a passer, Newton displayed great pocket presence throughout and, apart from taking a couple of needless sacks, made good decisions and looked comfortable behind an improving offensive line. An efficient Newton would have had three touchdown passes in all likelihood had a streaking Ted Ginn held on to a 70-yard pass down the sideline from Newton. The ball was placed perfectly for Ginn to run under, but the receiver let it go through his hands. In the first quarter, after an impressive drive with Newton-inspired third down conversions, he tossed his first touchdown pass. With a defender bearing down on him after a play fake, Newton kept his poise to find Greg Olsen wide open in the left side of the end zone. Olsen had run a drag route out of a heavy set on the goal line, but credit has to go to Newton for seeing the entire field and taking full advantage of a Tampa Bay defensive miscue. Newton's second touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, also off play action, as he tossed a nice pass into the flat for full back Mike Tolbert. Tolbert, who had lost Mason Foster in coverage, dove in for the easy score. A determined Newton, having already run for first downs, added a rushing touchdown. Set up in the red zone, Newton recognized man coverage by Tampa Bay. With no spy assigned to stop Newton taking off, he duly obliged and bounded in for a six-yard touchdown. Things seem to have finally clicked for Newton, who is playing better than at any time in his career.
Week 9 - A two-interception performance pockmarked with inaccuracy issues brought Cam Newton back to earth after a turnover-free three-game stretch. Newton was put under pressure with early Atlanta blitzes, forcing him to escape the pocket and take an early sack. He seemed a bit antsy after that opening series, missing Steve Smith on a deep dig route, sailing the ball over his head. Newton started to settle into the game, brilliantly avoiding a sack at one point and rolling out to find a waiting Smith in the flat for a first down. Newton tossed his first interception since Week 5 on a deep pass that simply wasn't there. Two Falcons defenders were in the area in good coverage, and Newton seemed to release the ball a beat before he wanted to, with the pass rush bearing down on him. To his credit, he responded with a touchdown pass not long after, faking out the Falcons' defense on fourth-and-one and bootlegging out to the right flat to find Greg Olsen wide open in the end zone. Olsen had been left uncovered and it was an easy read for the quarterback, but his ball fake was exceptionally well done. With a chance to pile up more points before the half, Newton made another error resulting in a pick. He and Smith appeared to be on different wavelengths as Newton tossed a pass to the back pylon of the end zone, presumably expecting Smith to run a fade route. Instead, Smith cut his route short and ran a fade stop. The cornerback made an incredibly athletic toe-tapping dive for the ball to secure the pick, but the decision was a poor one by Newton. With the Panthers taking control late on, Newton added a score on the ground as he bounded around right end on a designed quarterback keeper in the red zone. Despite losing two guards, Newton managed to stay composed in the pocket and performed well off play action with the Panthers' rushing attack humming and delivered a decent showing despite correctable errors.
Week 10 - A scattershot Cam Newton looked antsy early in this slugfest encounter in San Francisco, throwing too high for his receivers as his accuracy issues continued to rear their ugly head. Newton wasn't helped by the fact that his weapons continued to drop passes, with Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell making mental errors on what should have been easy completions. The Niners defense was able to get decent pressure on Newton throughout, but he managed to escape and produced some nice throws on the run, especially on third down. His lone interception of the game came on an unusual throw to the sideline ñ the commentators speculated that he was trying to throw the ball out of bounds ñ with no receiver in the area. He failed to use proper technique, using all arm to get the ball out rather than turning his body into the pass. Were it not for a huge spot of luck Newton would have thrown another pick, as a ball was tipped into the air by Navorro Bowman after he had his hands on it into the grateful arms of Greg Olsen. Newton calmed down in the second half and remained poised despite more incompletions and drops. The Niners defense kept Newton well-marshalled in the pocket, not allowing him to step up and out to run the ball. Newton had a bad exchange with center Ryan Kalil in the final moments in a scary moment for Carolina, but Newton had the presence of mind to dive on the loose ball. In what was a difficult environment to play in, Newton's inaccuracy continued to plague him, but it was a solid display overall for the young quarterback.
Week 11 - In a performance that will be remembered by Panthers fans for a long time, Cam Newton produced a near-perfect display on the big stage of Monday Night Football. Newton had a few balls that got away from him, but in general he delivered the football on time and accurately as he and his receivers seemed to be perfectly in sync throughout. Against a Patriots front seven that essentially eliminated any threat on the ground from the Panthers' stable of backs, the pressure was put on Newton to deliver time and again. On third down he was particularly effective, going through his progressions with poise and finding his targets with precision. Newton was able to scramble to good effect when the rush was bearing down on him. One stood out as arguably the play of the night as Newton, according to an ESPN graphic, weaved his way past Patriots after dodging two in the backfield with slick sidesteps, to the tune of over 75 yards. The actual gain on the play was 14 yards, but it was an electrifying play to keep a drive alive. Newton's first touchdown pass of the day came on a beautiful dart to Brandon LaFell. Newton had pressure bearing down on him, but he stayed cool and fired over the middle to LaFell, who walked in. His second touchdown came on a wonderfully accurate pass on a deep out to Greg Olsen as the offense was set up in the red zone. Olsen released out of a stacked alignment, and he ran a good route to bamboozle the defensive back, who couldn't get over to him in time to cause an incompletion as Newton fired to the pylon for his tight end. Newton's third and game-winning touchdown was a simple hook route to Ted Ginn Jr. Newton placed the football where Ginn could run onto it and possibly run after the catch. The wiry speedster did just that, making the tackler miss and outrunning the remaining Patriots to the end zone. In an error-free game, Newton displayed incredible calm and veteran savvy that served as a further reminder of how far he has progressed as a quarterback.
Week 12 - In an uneven display that saw him flustered early and often by an aggressive Miami defense, Cam Newton showed good resilience to battle back. The Panthers offensive line was given all it could handle and Newton was often forced to break the pocket and run or stand it and deliver strikes. To his credit, he did both to good effect when called upon, including a beautiful zipped pass to Steve Smith against the blitz. Showing good accuracy throughout when he had decent time in the pocket, Newton let one loose for his lone interception of the day. Newton tried to get the ball to Brandon LaFell on a skinny post, but the pass seemed to be a beat late and the cornerback in coverage, knowing he had safety help over the top, undercut the low pass. It was an example of Newton forcing a pass that just wasn't there, something he didn't do often in this clash. Newton was let down on a couple of occasions by Ted Ginn, notably on a deep pass that Ginn allowed to hit his hands, but failed to reel in for what could have been a long touchdown. When the offense finally got into gear, it was the no huddle that ignited it. Newton capped off the Panthers' first drive of the second half with a rushing touchdown. Lined up in the shotgun five yards from the goal line, Newton optioned the defensive end, putting the ball into the belly of his running back, and pounced when he saw the end static. It was an easy run right up the middle for a score. Newton showed incredible poise in the final minutes as the Panthers drove for a game-winning score, hitting Smith on 4th-and-10 with a pinpoint pass and keeping the offense ticking along with short, accurate passes. Capping off a battling performance, Newton tossed his lone touchdown pass of the day to Greg Olsen. Lined up on the one, Olsen was given a free release and Newton needed only to loft a pass to him off play action to seal the game. Despite the good effort defensively by Miami, Newton remained composed in another comeback victory.
Week 13 - In an efficient performance highlighted by a stellar offensive line effort, Cam Newton led the Panthers to an eighth straight victory. Newton handled the Bucs rush very well when it closed on him, taking advantage of a break in contain by defensive end Adrian Clayborn to scoot for 56 yards down the field. Newton could have ducked out of bounds, but skirted the sideline and benefited from a great Steve Smith block for a massive gain. Newton was within yards of scoring but was tripped up at the last second. In the pocket, he was composed and delivered some accurate passes on a frozen rope; at other times, however, he let himself down with high passes. One of his interceptions came on a target to Brandon LaFell across the middle, Newton zipping the pass in too high. LaFell went for it, but the ball bounced off his hands and fell into a Tampa Bay's safety's. Poor mechanics were the cause of Newton's second pick, as he failed to set his feet and drive into a throw, resulting in an inaccurate pass over the middle. Granted, he was under some heat, but the pocket seemed clean enough to either throw the ball away or deliver a more accurate pass. Newton made up for his sloppy plays, of which there were very few, with a pair of touchdown passes and a rushing touchdown. Taking advantage of a breakdown in the Tampa Bay secondary, Newton lofted a pass to a wide open LaFell on the back line of the end zone for a straightforward score. No Bucs defender was near LaFell. Newton added a second touchdown pass, as Ted Ginn burned Darrelle Revis on a 36-yard stop-and-go route. Revis went for the interception, allowing Newton to throw the pass in stride to a streaking Ginn for the score. Set up at the one-yard line on fourth-and-goal at the end of the first half, Newton dove over the pile, breaking the plane to score his rushing touchdown. The ball was knocked out, but the quarterback's leap and stretch of the ball was enough. Newton could have added a third touchdown pass, as he overthrew a streaking LaFell on a skinny post route by a yard or two. It was an overall comfortable day in the pocket for Newton, with the Bucs' pass rush neutralised by a strong rushing attack and great offensive line play. Newton went through his progressions very calmly and always had an outlet receiver to throw to when the pass rush bore down on him, but he still has some inaccuracy issues to clean up.
Week 14 - After a decent start littered with short, ball control passing, Cam Newton's night turned sour as the Saints pass rush began to close in on him. This went hand in hand with the Panthers' inability to convert third downs and, on the other side of the ball, New Orleans' efficiency on offense. Newton showed good poise at times and an early scramble for 19 yards against the blitz was a good decision by the quarterback. Utilising the read option in the opening salvos, Newton showed good patience at the mesh with DeAngelo Williams and made good reads to pick up positive gains. However, with the game script turning the way of New Orleans and Carolina forced to pass first, Newton started to become a little bit skittish in the pocket. Instead of stepping up, he continued to back up, inviting the rush. When he could step up into the pocket he was given ample time to pick out his targets; often, they just weren't open. Newton had a chance to connect with tight end Greg Olsen down the seam, but the Saints coverage forced Newton to put the pass into a tight area, a task he couldn't complete when asked. In general he showed good patience going through his reads, but his rushing threat that troubled the Saints early went by the wayside as Carolina went into pass-first mode. Newton managed to find Steve Smith late on for his lone touchdown pass on an otherwise uninspiring day for the Panthers. Smith, after some hand fighting with cornerback Keenan Lewis, bought a yard of space. Newton, meanwhile, escaped the pocket and rolled right, firing a dart into Smith's waiting hands. It was one of a handful of bright spots in a turnover-free, if limp, performance by Newton.
Week 15 - Cam Newton was able to pass with ease against a vulnerable New York defense that allowed 273 yards. New York’s Front 7 did an excellent job of keeping Newton in the pocket by spying middle linebacker David Harris, but Newton had no issue throwing all over New York’s secondary. Despite only rushing for 12 yards on seven carries, Newton’s rushing ability created opportunities for DeAngelo Williams, who totaled 168 yards. Late in the second quarter, Newton called a designed screen pass for Williams that resulted in a 72-yard catch and run touchdown. Carolina’s blockers, namely the wide receivers, all dominated their assignments as Williams ran virtually untouched into the end zone. This big play propelled Carolina a 13-6 second quarter lead that they would continue to add to. Right before halftime, Newton was awkwardly tackled and appeared to slightly injure his ankle. Newton did not miss any snaps, but his rushing ability was clearly compromised in the second half. Early in the third quarter, Ron Rivera opted to go for a 4th-and-2 play on New York’s 14-yard line. Carolina boasted a 10-point lead and as we’ve watched in prior weeks, this is where Newton digs deep and makes plays with his legs. However, Carolina called a quick slant to Steve Smith that was broken up. It was a surprising decision, so check the injury reports this week to see whether his ankle continues to cause discomfort. Overall, it was a ‘ho hum’ performance for Newton. Newton’s passing statistics were buoyed by Williams’ 72-yard catch and run. In addition, Carolina defense was responsible for one touchdown. Newton took turns picking on each of New York’s corners and routinely found Greg Olsen and Brandon LaFell downfield for big gains. With a home win against the New Orleans Saints next week, Carolina has a chance to win the NFC South.
Week 16 - Nursing sore ankles, Cam Newton did not look like his usual dynamic self against the Saints. It seemed he was uncomfortable stepping into throws and as a result his passes flew high and wide of their intended targets. His ability to run was also hampered and he lacked a spring in his step. His first pass of the day belied that injury and its effects, however, as he released a perfect pass on time to Steve Smith down the seam for 44 yards. It all went downhill from there, as Newton struggled to establish a rhythm. Conservative play-calling played a part; it is possible offensive coordinator Mike Shula was aware of Newton's limitations due to injury and acted accordingly to protect him. Newton got off to a bad start, throwing a red-zone interception as a pass intended for Ted Ginn was thrown too high, tipped and duly intercepted by the waiting Saints defense. With the Saints sending heavy pressure and Newton backing up in the pocket, thus inviting the rush, he was sacked four times. Nevertheless, he battled through it and delivered his best pass of the game - and possibly one of his best of the season - to Ginn on a crossing pattern in the final seconds of the game. The offensive line gave Newton ample time, but he delivered an inch-perfect pass, showing great anticipation of when Ginn would come free. Newton followed that up with his lone touchdown pass of the game, a strike on an out pattern to Domenik Hixon, who was only in the game because of an injury to Steve Smith. The pass was thrown where only Hixon could catch it and it was a strong finish by Newton despite his struggles.
Week 17 - In another scattershot performance by Cam Newton, the quarterback showed good patience and an evolving veteran poise to overcome a stubborn Falcons defense in his hometown. Newton took an early shot that seemed to unsettle him, many of his passes sailing over the heads of the intended receivers. This has been a problem all season for Newton, whose accuracy may be affected by his lingering ankle injury. Newton missed Brandon LaFell down the seam, Greg Olsen on the sideline and Domenik Hixon. The Hixon miss proved costly as the ball was tipped into the air and intercepted. Newton's pass was delivered far too high for Hixon to reel in. Newton relied on his legs a great deal when the play broke down and produced a couple of incredible scrambles, including one in which he must have covered about 65 yards to travel 15 yards. Newton put together a drive when the Panthers needed it most and hit Ted Ginn Jr. for his first touchdown pass of the game. Ginn ran a shallow cross and another receiver ëpicked' the defensive back in coverage on Ginn, allowing Newton to find him wide open. Newton followed this up with an impressive second, a dart to Olsen in the red zone. Newton bought time with his legs to allow his receivers time to get open and fired a beautiful laser to his tight end, low and away from the defenders in the area. In a controlled display, Newton showed his battling qualities despite continued issues with accuracy.
Week 19 - In a game of two halves for Newton, a disjointed second-half performance proved his and the Panthers' undoing. The Niners defense gradually began to exert more pressure on Newton and the quarterback didn't help his offensive line at times by withdrawing from pressure instead of stepping up into the pocket. However, in the first half Newton handled the rush very well, getting into his stride with some runs early on. Offensive coordinator Mike Shula, seeing the traditional rushing attack falter, turned to the read option and Newton had some success as he made the correct reads and found some room to the outside. It was in the passing attack that he struggled, especially in the second half. The Niners, after allowing Steve Smith to influence matters in the opening stanza, shut him down after the interval with tight coverage and more disciplined play. Newton was off target on occasion with his passes as has become a trademark of his game, but these passes didn't harm Carolina until a high pass to Brandon LaFell came off the receiver's hands. It landed fortuitously in the arms of Patrick Willis for Newton's first interception. Newton's second interception was much more flagrant an error and was completely his fault as a pass down the seam intended for Greg Olsen was read perfectly by safety Donte Whitner. Olsen was well covered and Newton had no business throwing the pass and presumably did so because the team was in desperation mode. Newton's lone touchdown pass was a thing of beauty as he lofted a perfect pass down the sideline and over a trailing cornerback's coverage to land the football in Steve Smith's grateful paws. It was a brave pass to attempt considering the tight coverage, but Newton trusted his receiver and he delivered