Improved defense, you ask? Yes. With Jon Beason, Thomas Davis and Ron Edwards coming back, Carolina's unit should be much improved next year. On top of that, the Panthers will be looking to add some defensive talent in this year's draft. (I go more in depth on how that might play out here.) With all of this additional talent, the Panthers will be able to give Cam Newton and the offense a little more confidence in conservatism at times.
Also, don't overlook the improved special teams unit. With several signings this offseason and the return of the aforementioned players, a ton more of the legitimate backups (not practice squad players) will be able to participate on the coverage teams. Carolina lost games this past season due to special teams deficiencies. I doubt this will be the case this year.
With a belief that the defense will be able to get stops and return the ball to the offense with some sort of reasonable field position, Cam won't feel quite so compelled to take as many risks. He can appreciate the value of field position, not needing to get the ball into the end zone for a possession to be considered successful.
Cam Newton went 6-10 last year as a starter. Andy Dalton led the Bengals to a 9-7 record. Obviously, everyone knows who the better quarterback is, but Dalton benefited from a much better defense. Dalton is a very solid player, but the Bengals' defense was seventh overall while the Panthers' was 28th. When the defense doesn't get stops, your team falls behind. When your team falls behind, defenses know you have to throw. When defenses know you have to throw, it becomes very difficult for any quarterback to find success. (This was not an ad for DirecTV...)
I strongly believe that Cam will put a greater focus on protecting the football next year, and his efforts will be backed by the play of a much-improved defensive unit. The improved defense will benefit Cam with personal success as well as team wins.