The Pro Football Writers of America announced Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton as its Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year for the 2015 season Wednesday.
The PFWA tweeted Newton's selection for the awards after he accounted for over 4,400 yards of total offense and 45 touchdowns while leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record.
Newton took a major step forward in his fifth season leading the Carolina offense. His 35 passing touchdowns were 11 more than his previous career high, and he posted a 99.4 passer rating, which was also a new high watermark (88.8 in 2013). He added more than 600 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground as well.
It further established him as one of the league's most dynamic weapons at the quarterback position, along with Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, whom the Panthers beat in the divisional round of the playoffs last week.
Don't expect Newton to celebrate the accolades now, though. In late December, he stated the conversation about the battle for MVP was "irrelevant to me right now," with his focus on team success, as noted by Max Henson of the Panthers' official site.
"It's a culmination of guys making plays and (me) feeling comfortable in the pocket. Everybody is doing their job," Newton said. "Offensive football is the ultimate team sport. You need all 11 members to do their job."
His success is even more impressive when you consider his merely average supporting cast. Greg Olsen is one of the NFL's top tight ends, but the top three wide receivers in yards were Ted Ginn Jr., Jerricho Cotchery and Devin Funchess—not exactly a star-studded group.
Newton has also drawn the ire of some for his actions on the field, particularly after the Panthers score a touchdown. But it's hard to take those complaints too seriously when you see the look on kids' faces when he hands them a football after scoring.
The Panthers return to action Sunday night to face off with the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Championship Game. Newton will need to play at an MVP level to guide his team to a Super Bowl berth.
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