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Cam Newton put together one of the most prolific rookie seasons in NFL history during the 2011 season, and that performance led to increased expectations for his sophomore campaign.
Through four games this season, Newton has completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 1,013 yards to go along with his four touchdowns and five interceptions. Those numbers don't compare to the first quarter of his rookie season, which saw him throw for almost 1,400 yards and five touchdown passes.
While all the blame shouldn't be placed on Newton, his performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants left a lot to be desired.
In 2012, it has been apparent that Newton is focused on becoming more of a threat from inside the pocket. At points, his desire to be a pocket-passer has hurt the efficiency of the offense as Newton is most dangerous with the ball in his hand in the open field.
For the Panthers to win a Super Bowl with Newton, the young quarterback will have to become a dominant force from inside the pocket. He must do so while not sacrificing the gains the offense is accustomed to getting from Newton's ground attack.
The future success of the Panthers is directly tied to Newton, who has a lot of room to improve in the season's next quarter.
Jon Beason was forced to sit out the 2011 season due to a torn Achilles and hasn't been able to regain his former level of excellence.
Through the season's first four games, Beason has compiled 27 tackles and two pass deflections.
At this rate, Beason will finish the season with just 108 tackles. If he doesn't increase his level of production and keeps down this path, it would mark Beason's least productive full season of his career.
It might be asking too much of Beason to reclaim his past form, but the Panthers desperately need him to at the very least stay on the field and lead the disappointing defensive unit.
Beason's speed and agility were the key to his success as an elite NFL linebacker, but he appears to have lost a step.
Beason has missed quite a few tackles this season, which is unlike his past self.
While it is too soon to write the ex-Miami Hurricane off, Panthers fans may have to accept the fact that Beason may never be as dominant as he was prior to tearing his Achilles at the beginning of the 2011 season.