NFL Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton May Win, but Has Questions to Answer in 2012

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NFL Rookie of the Year: Cam Newton May Win, but Has Questions to Answer in 2012
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1)

Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers (6-10) wrapped up the 2011 NFL regular season with a 4-2 record in their final six games and with momentum heading into the 2012 offseason, despite their Week 17 loss to the New Orleans Saints (13-3).

A situational breakdown of Newton's 2011 stats shows that the Panthers' young quarterback, and likely 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year, had a helluva first season as a pro, but they also show room for improvement.

Among Newton's accomplishments are:

First quarterback in NFL history to pass for over 400-yards in each of his first two starts

First quarterback in NFL history to rush for 14 touchdowns

First rookie quarterback in NFL history to pass for more than 4,000 yards in a season

First player in NFL history to pass for more than 4,000 yards and run for more than 500 yards in a season

Among Newton's weaknesses are:

Decreased second-half efficiency

Inability to overcome turnovers

Lack of fourth-quarter comebacks

Losing record vs NFC South divisional foes

Newton faced harsh criticism from the media, television's scouting "experts" and fans regarding his character, his intelligence and his throwing accuracy entering his rookie year.

While some of the criticism was warranted due to charges leveled at Newton and his father for incidents involving a stolen laptop, academic cheating and allegations of bribery, Newton disproved his critics by becoming involved in the Charlotte, NC community, quickly absorbing a complex NFL offensive system and throwing the ball better than even his biggest fans could have expected.

However, despite Newton's many accomplishments in 2011 and his likely coronation as the 2011 NFL Rookie of the Year, there are still a few things he has yet to accomplish which will be crucial to his success and the Panthers' success in 2012.

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