Carolina Panthers: Blame Shouldn’t Fall Solely On Cam Newton
Cam Newton is the face of the Carolina Panthers, but that doesn”t mean he should take all of the blame for a disappointing 2016 season.
Quarterbacks are the stars of any football team. More often than not, these players are the “face” of an organization—on the receiving end of the praise when a team finds success. At the same time, quarterbacks are prone to getting the brunt of when a team fails. That’s the question coming up when discussing Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton’s performance came up in discussion during ESPN’s First Take. Special guest Jordan Rodgers discussed the concern over the amount of work that Newton was asked to complete for the offense during the 2016 season, which led to many of the overall struggles.
“I think because of what he was asked to do it exposed areas,” Rodgers said. “He didn’t have the same weapons and the same system. He was asked to do much more in  than in 2015.”
There’s some interesting truth to what Rodgers said during the conversation. In 2015, Newton had a career season, setting career bests with a 35-10 touchdown-interception ratio and reaching his highest marks in both QBR and quarterback rating. Just one season later, he hit career lows in both of those ranking metrics and had a mediocre output of 19 touchdowns to 14 interceptions.
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Much of this situation can be accounted to the fact that the Panthers were playing from behind for many of their games in 2016. Opposing offenses found ways to score early and often, showing a severe drop-off for the Carolina defense. When coupled with a need to pass the ball and an oft-injured offensive line, the pressure from defenses got to Newton time and again. The Panthers were in an entirely different situation in 2015 as the defense held opponents in check and allowed the offense to run the score up in many of their outings. That wasn’t the case this season and Newton was forced to push the offense, putting the team in a position that limited their attack options.
Newton was also unable to rush the ball, totaling only 359 yards on 90 attempts—both career lows. Much of this could be attributed to the weakened and injured offensive line that was not only unable to protect the quarterback, but also hindered the strength of the Panthers running game. With all of these issues plaguing the offense, it’s clear that Newton was at a disadvantage, even though expectations were high at the start of the year.
At 27 years old, Newton is still a very young man in his NFL career. The 2016 season was highly upsetting for a number of different reasons and Newton’s play is certainly one of them. However, that does not mean all the blame should fall onto his shoulders—just as he should not receive all of the praise for the recent success.