Friday, July 5, 2013

Cam Newton/Carolina Panthers Rant

by Justis Mosqueda

"Cam Newton dropped off as a passer his sophomore season."

This isn't factually true at all. After having what most consider the greatest rookie season for a quarterback, many think he dropped off, due to raw box score scouting. Here's a look how he scored in 2011 and 2012 in the five most important quarterback stats:

Completion Percentage
2011: 60.0%

2012: 57.7%
Difference: -2.3%

Touchdown Percentage

2011: 4.1%
2012: 3.9%
Difference: -0.2%

Interception Percentage
2011: 3.3%
2012: 2.5%
Difference: -0.8%

Yards Per Pass
2011: 7.84
2012: 7.98
Difference: +0.14

Yards Per Completion

2011: 13.07
2012: 13.82

Difference: +0.75

He actually improved in three of the five areas, with one of the "declines" by only 0.2%, basically equal.

"Teams figured out Cam Newton as a runner."

That's no true, either. The fact is, he went from the third rusher on the Panthers in 2011 to the leading rusher in 2012.

DeAngelo Williams 155 carries, 836 yards, 7 touchdowns
Jonathan Stewart 142 carries, 761 yards, 4 touchdowns
Cam Newton 126 carries, 706 yards, 14 touchdowns
Steve Smith 6 carries, 56 yards

Cam Newton 127 carries, 741 yards, 8 touchdowns
DeAngelo Williams 173 carries, 737 yards, 5 touchdowns
Jonathan Stewart 93 carries, 336 yards, 1 touchdown
Mike Tolbert 54 carries 183 yards, 7 touchdowns

Now, his touchdowns dropped from 14 to 8, but in 2011 there was really no power back for the Panthers. With the addition of Tolbert in 2012, they combined for 15 touchdowns, 1 more than Cam Newton's 2011 total. Carolina just decided they would rather have a true power back most of the goal line snaps and "steal" touchdowns from Newton, instead of having their future smash into defensive linemen.

By the way, he is their future. He's their present. He's their everything. Since Newton, only three of the Panthers nineteen picks have been spent on offensive skill players. None of them were picked inside the top 100:

2012 4th round 104th overall Joe Adams Arkansas
2011 5th round 132nd overall Kealoha Pilares WR Hawaii
2013 6th round 182nd overall Kenjon Barner RB Oregon

To put that into perspective, the Panthers have used 15.78% of their picks on offensive skill players post-Newton, their past two seasons they've ended with 26.92% and 24.52% of their roster as non-quarterback offensive skill players. The Panthers draft picks in that part of their roster aren't representative of their roster overall.

Plus, it's not like they've stocked up on great skill players in the past, and that's why they haven't used the picks on them. Check out Carolina's leading receivers since Cam's been on the team:

Steve Smith 79 receptions, 1,394 yards, 7 touchdowns
Greg Olsen 45 receptions, 540 yards, 5 touchdowns
Legedu Naanee 44 receptions, 467, 1 touchdown [now out of the league]
Brandon LaFell 36 receptions, 613 yards, 3 touchdowns

Steve Smith 73 receptions, 1,174 yards, 4 touchdowns
Greg Olsen 69 receptions, 843 yards, 5 touchdowns
Brandon LaFell 44 receptions, 677 yards, 4 touchdowns
Mike Tolbert 27 receptions, 39 yards

Everything Cam Newton has done, he's earned. In the two years before Cam Newton, Steve Smith average 56 receptions, 768 yards, and 5 touchdowns. In the two years with Newton, Smith's averaged 76 receptions, 1,284 yards, and 6 touchdowns. That's an increase of 20 receptions, 516 yards, and a touchdown for a receiver who was 32 when Cam joined the team. His number two receiver targets in the past two years could be in the running for the worst number twos in the league. Legedu Naanee (Carolina's number two receiver in 2011) isn't even the league anymore.

"Carolina isn't good. They can't win close games. Look at their secondary, they'd have to win a shootout."

My take on close games may be different than most, but the fact is that Carolina would have been 14-2, had they won all their games they were within 6 points of. Newton is almost single-handedly keeping games within reach. While Carolina's DB's are an issue, defensive tackle was their biggest "need" in the draft. Terrell McClain and Sione Fua (3rd round DT's) came in with Newton in the 2011 class, but never showed much promise. They addressed the position early and often with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short in 2013. Lotulelei was considered the best defensive prospect in the draft until his health issue at the combine, and many pegged Short as a first round talent since 2012.

Either way, Carolina address a huge need, improved their front seven drastically through the draft, and Newton's shown the ability to at least keep games close, all on his own back. If you can keep it close, you have a chance to win. That goes for any team.

Currently, Carolina's over/under is at 7 wins, they have the lowest odds to win the NFC South, and they have the second lowest odds to make the Super Bowl from the NFC (behind only Arizona.) I would take all of those odds. Using a close game theory, 12 of 13 teams have improved their record, if they qualified. Carolina was the only qualifying team in 2012 for that theory. They won 7 games. Assuming the theory is correct, there's a 92% chance that Carolina improves their record in 2013.

Vegas, and the football community as a whole, isn't respecting the Panthers enough.

Justis Mosqueda is a Journalism student who writes for, and cuts videos of NFL Draft prospects for

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