The Carolina Panthers lost 14 games in 2010 and their offensive stats were just that. Offensive.
Teams blitzed without fear of being burned. The 4 QBs Carolina played last year threw a total of 9 TDs. Steve Smith fought through injuries, leading to season totals of 554 receiving yards and 2 TDs.
"Double Trouble" ran into 8 or 9 defenders in the box on nearly every play. To their credit, I saw most players on the team fight until the last play of the year.
I especially tip my hat to last year's defense for giving their all, even in games that they were on the field 40 minutes. Now fast forward to the 2011 season.
The Arizona Cardinals blitzed seemingly every play. (I expect Green Bay will mix in a little more zone coverage). Newton has shown he can burn an aggressive defense.
He has also proven to the Panthers' defense that if they give up a score the offense now has a realistic chance to answer with a score of its own, providing much needed rest for the thin D-line.
And Steve Smith? Well, he has already matched his 2 TD total of last year with 15 games left to play. I can't even wrap my mind around how insanely dominant his career could have been with better QB play.
Newton's leadership gives the entire Carolina Panthers team hope for the future. And that makes being a fan exciting again.