Why Fans, Media Should Worry About Cam Newton

Lou RomContributor IOctober 11, 2012

Oct 7, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) at the line during the first half at Bank of America Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Cam Newton is in the midst of a classic sophomore slump.

As much as he wowed us in 2011, he has disappointed in 2012.

Newton has looked lost, bewildered at times, simply overwhelmed. Against the Giants, against the Seahawks, and at times, against every defensive unit he has faced.

Unlike his sterling 2011 season in which he became the first rookie quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards and won offensive Rookie of the Year honors, this season Newton looks every bit the learning, struggling rookie.

Newton's racked up a fair amount of yardage, to be sure—1,154 to be exact. But he has one more interception than touchdowns and seems like he's playing catchup much of the time.

He rolls out when he has plenty of time and good protection in the pocket. He stays put as the pocket collapses around him and takes the sack. He throws the ball with a lineman in his face, ready to swat it away. And he throws some of his poorest passes when he has five, six, eight seconds to make a good decision—like he did Sunday against the Seahawks.

But interestingly, no one is calling for Newton to be benched.

Yet, nearly 3,000 miles away from where Newton toils, a true rookie has almost identical numbers:

Russell Wilson has thrown 79 passes for 815 yards, with five touchdowns and six interceptions.

Newton has thrown 80 passes for 1,154, four touchdowns and five interceptions.

Newton's most popular target, Steve Smith, is the difference—he's caught 21 passes for 388 yards.

Take Smith away and Newton has 766 yards passing.

It's definitely time to worry in Carolina. Newton will probably return to form, but maybe he's just not as good as he was last year.

We'll know a lot more by January.