Last week, the NFL was shocked when Cam Newton threw for over 400 yards in his NFL debut. He was poised in the pocket and didn't make many rookie mistakes. Nonetheless, most fans and analysts would be lying if they expected him to do it again against a defending Super Bowl champion defense. Well guess what—he did.
Newton threw for 432 yards and ran for 53 more. Both numbers eclipse what he did in his debut, but once again they come in a loss. Newton didn't look as sharp—he did throw three interceptions—but we're talking about the Green Bay Packers defense here. They are one of the best groups in the league and they were able to get consistent pressure on Newton, in part because right tackle Jeff Otah sat out after suffering a concussion in Week 1.
The man who stepped in for Otah, rookie Byron Bell, did an admirable job though. He limited Clay Matthews to one sack and that sack came when Newton moved up into the pocket in an attempt to scramble, so it would be hard to make Bell the scapegoat for the loss.
Newton's average 72.0 rating does not tell the whole story. We can sit around and wait for ESPN's QBR to come out, but if you watched the game, you got a true feeling that this guy will be a star. He had the same poise as he did in Week 1 and moved well in the pocket.
His three interceptions came as a result of trying to win the game for his team by himself and the offensive coordinator put Cam in a position to make mistakes. The Panthers offense needed to establish a running game better and should have run some more short routes in the second and third quarter to let their young quarterback settle down after throwing his first interception.
Newton will have another chance to go over 400 yards next week when the Panthers play a pedestrian Jaguars defense. This will be a make or break game for Newton. He needs to be more efficient, as he was in Week 1, and eliminate costly turnovers.
You will hear some moaning of Newton's lack of clutch ability in his first two NFL games, but really think about the situation at hand. These are a rookie quarterback's first two NFL games and he put his team in a position to come back and win twice. He may have come up short near the end zone, but better play-calling and more experience will overcome that in the future.
If it wasn't evident following his Week 1 performance, it's now more clear than ever that this kid has a very bright future ahead of him and the Panthers won't be counted out of any games for the rest of the season.
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