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Will Carolina's future be as bright as Cam Newton's smile?
After a 2-14 season in 2010, the Carolina Panthers drafted Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the top pick of the 2011 NFL draft.
Newton started from day one and exceeded expectations. He became the first quarterback to throw for over 400 yards in each of his first two games.
Like most teams quarterbacked by rookies, the Panthers struggled. They started the season 2-8.
However, they won four of their last six to finish 6-10.
Their offense was ranked seventh, but the defense hurt them with their 28th ranking.
What really hurt them, though, was their inability to hold leads.
In five games against NFC playoff teams—Green Bay, Detroit, Atlanta (twice) and the first New Orleans game—the Panthers had a lead and lost.
Fix the defense and the Panthers will contend in 2012.