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2013 Statistics: 61.7 percent passing, 3,379 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions—111 carries, 585 yards, 6 touchdowns
Carolina finds itself in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Quarterback Cam Newton took the league by storm as a rookie, scoring a record 14 rushing touchdowns and winning the Rookie of the Year award in the process. He followed it up with another strong—though somewhat of a letdown—campaign in his sophomore year.
But the Panthers won a combined 13 games thanks largely to a porous defense, a unit that has seen a dramatic improvement this year.
By comparison to his first two seasons, this has been a down year for Newton and that offense. Part of that has to do with the departure of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. It also helps that the Panthers boasted one of the top defenses in the league, thus reducing the need for the offense to put up big points.
But just because the offense hasn't been lights out doesn't mean it can't turn on the jets in the playoffs. If that happens, Newton would be the jetfuel.
Newton is as dangerous as ever on the ground, he has simply been asked to run less this season. He still managed 585 yards and six touchdowns. Ho hum, right?
Where he has grown is as a passer, despite seeing little improvement in the personnel around him. Aging Steve Smith is his No. 1 receiver, with inconsistent options elsewhere at receiver. Tight end Greg Olsen has been solid as well, but that's about it for Newton's arsenal.
If the Panthers are going to light it up offensively in the playoffs, it will be because of Newton.