Being the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft puts a lot of pressure on a rookie. None may have had more pressure than Cam Newton.
Newton was drafted by the Carolina Panthers this past spring in the midst of an NFL lockout. This, of course, was of no help to the rookie quarterback, as it would seem the Panthers are gearing up for him to start in Week 1 of the NFL season.
Much like Tim Tebow before him, Cam has been described as a great athlete and an okay quarterback. Like Tebow, he ran the spread in college and the play calls weren’t that complex. Cam has got a lot to learn and very little time to learn it. If he’s going to succeed this season, he’s going to need some help.
The Offensive Line
Like all starting quarterbacks, Cam is going to need protection if he’s going to do well. Sure, he has the ability to scramble around and is elusive, but if he wants to be a quarterback, he’s going to have to stand tall in the pocket and throw the ball.
The Panthers can go a long way to easing the tension on Cam if they run the ball a lot.
If the Panthers can get teams to stack eight guys in the box on the majority of their plays, Cam will get a lot of one-on-one looks which will allow receivers like Steve Smith to get open and get the ball.
In fact, the first three plays of the season for the Panthers should be hand-offs. They may go three-and-out, but at least Cam will get through a series without getting shook.
There is the old saying that “the best offense is a good defense,” and there isn’t another place in the NFL that this doesn’t hold true.
Carolina’s defense is going to have to keep teams from scoring because the best way for Cam to get acclimated to the NFL will be either playing with the lead or a tie game.
If the pressure is on him constantly to come from behind then he’ll make more errors, get frustrated and end up like David Carr.
Time is the one thing that the Panthers don’t look like they’ll allow Cam to have.
Much like Tebow, Cam needs to be carrying a clipboard as opposed to running the offense. He has so many things he needs to work on that he won’t be able to do if he’s thrown to the wolves.
The Panthers’ quarterback coach can preach and work on mechanics all he wants during the week, but if Cam has a 300 lbs lineman coming after him, he’s going to revert to his old habits.
He needs to be able to practice these things constantly without getting into a game so that they replace his old habits with his new muscle memory.