Cam Newton broke notable records during his Rookie campaign. Many people are wondering why he isn't having as much success this year. I was one of them.
So, I took the time to examine numerous Newton running and passing plays this season. I noticed a few things that are definitely holding him back.
1. He has not been doing a good job reading what the defense has been giving him pre-snap.
When the defense lines up with seven men on the line, a professional quarterback should recognize the situation and immediately know he has single coverage on the outside. The right thing to do is call an audible and have in trust your receiver to beat his guy down the field.
I noticed plenty of instances where Newton lines up and doesn't even give the defense a look. This is not a recipe for success in the National Football League.
2. Newton has the tendency to lock in on one receiver.
He has been consistently missing open guys due to this. If it weren't for spectacular plays made by some of his receivers and drops by defenders, Newton's turnover margin on the year would be a much larger number than you see on the stat sheet.
3. He hasn't been able to recognize when he has the opportunity to use his legs.
For example, in Carolina's Week 7 matchup at home against the Cowboys, there were many plays where Dallas' secondary did a superb job defending in coverage. Instead of using his speed to get the first down himself, he would either throw the ball into double-, even triple-coverage, or just throw the ball away. That is not the same Newton we saw much of last year.
Carolina is 1-6 right now, and by far, the worst team in the NFC. Aside from an embarrassing home loss in Newton's prime-time debut against the Giants, the Panthers haven't lost a game by more than six points. In fact, their last two games came against the NFC's two best teams (Atlanta and Chicago) and were decided by two points or less.
When you come that close to winning and don't get the job done, you don't want to start pointing fingers at your teammates. I can't imagine players in the Panther locker room feeling the same way I do.
I will say this though, an elite quarterback knows how to close out games. Just look at Eli Manning. Newton just isn't there yet. There is all the evidence in the world to support this.
He certainly has the talent to make his mark in this league, but he needs to get his head back in the game. That's a great starting point for him.