Cam Newton is forcing the issue.
The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, a quarterback with a never-before-seen blend of imposing size, running back athleticism, and booming arm strength is playing like the guy many skeptics believed he'd turn out to be when he entered the NFL last season.
Through five games, Newton's Panthers are 1-4, and he's regressed as a passer.
The stats don't lie.
His completion percentage is a rather disappointing 58.8, and he's on pace to throw 13 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Think back to what made Newton the No. 1 overall pick in 2011.
It certainly wasn't his prowess as a pocket passer.
It was his versatility, or more specifically, what he brought to the field as a true playmaker, and how his size, deceptive speed and elusiveness made him such a dominating runner at the collegiate well.
While Newton has admirably developed as a passer and hasn't been totally perplexed by coverages like many predicted, he does have to play to his true strengths.
No, the former Heisman Trophy winner hasn't shied away from scrambling and making plays out of the pocket, but check out this stat tweeted by Rotoworld.com's Evan Silva:
Cam Newton has stayed under 25 pass attempts in 6 career games. Combined stats: 10 pass TD, 0 INT. 7 rushing TD. 65.6 completion%. 9.75 YPA.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) October 5, 2012
With quarterbacks throwing it more than ever, one has to think it'd be nearly impossible for a team to successfully navigate a regular season schedule, but Newton's poor decisions in the pocket have doomed Carolina thus far.
This isn't to say that Newton should run it 15 times a game and never bravely make a throw into tight coverage, but leaving the pocket to pick up positive yardage will help Carolina's offensive attack and alleviate pressure from Newton himself.
He is actually on pace to carry the ball two more times than he did last season, but now that defenses have a year of tape on him and his throwing tendencies, it shouldn't be totally surprising that the relatively raw Newton has underwhelmed as a passer.
However, it's extremely difficult to game-plan for Newton's rushing and improvisational brilliance, regardless of how much film there is to study.
For the time being, as the tremendously talented Newton learns finest intricacies of throwing consistently from the pocket, he should do what's natural and so hard to stop.
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