What in the world is going on with Cameron Jerrell Newton? Is it just a sophomore slump, or is it something more? Let’s look at last season’s first 5 games, the last 5 games, and this season’s first 5 games:
2011 1st 5 – 1610 pass yds, 58.2% comp, 7 TD, 5 INT, 160 rush yds, 5 rush TD, 1-4 record
2011 last 5 – 958 pass yds, 56.8% comp, 9 TD, 3 INT, 242 rush yds, 4 rush TD, 3-2 record
2012 first 5 – 1156 pass yds, 58.8% comp, 4 TD, 5 INT, 209 rush yds, 3 rush TD 1-4 record
So the numbers aren’t to far from the mean for Cam. So what’s the real problem? The problem is that there isn’t much around Newton. There are no receivers after Steve Smith. They are paying their stable of running backs $80 million, but won’t give them the ball on two crucial 4th and 1′s this season (one of them a 4th and goal). In fact, they don’t use their running backs much at all; the Panthers as a team rank 18th in rushing attempts in the league. Also, their defense continues to be awful (23rd in total yards). Cam nearly has to be Superman every game for the Panthers to pull out victories. You can see that the pressure, and the lack of support, is getting to Newton.
But that is not an excuse. Cam cannot pout. As a team leader, you have to show your teammates that you still believe that your team can pull out a win in the midst of dire circumstances. That’s why Smith chewed him out on the sidelines; Cam has to grow up and be a leader. But it must be tough when you look around you and you have personnel that is subpar, and a coaching staff that continually makes poor in-game decisions. Cam is quickly becoming the NFL LeBron James; supreme talent, with a poor team around him, and he gets all the blame for its shortcomings. Such is the price a superhero must face.
But the derisive coverage that Cam is getting currently really isn’t fair. It seems the media is searching for the next athlete to demonize since LeBron has won his championship. They did it after he won a National Championship and a Heisman. So what do you think is stopping them now that he is being humbled by the NFL? He has played 21 games with a team that is less than adequate. This week Cam said he is ready to be the leader that the Panthers need moving forward. Though we would have liked for him to have saved that earlier in his career, the Mancave will hold off its judgment on Cam until the kryptonite around and inside of him gets cleared up. Games of the weekend after the song of the week:
Saturday, October 20
EARLY AFTERNOON: 6 LSU vs 18 Texas A&M (12pm, ESPN)/15 Rutgers vs Temple (12pm, MASN)/Virginia Tech vs 19 Clemson (12pm, ABC)
LATE AFTERNOON: 7 South Carolina vs 2 Florida (3:30pm, CBS)/17 Texas Tech vs 23 TCU (3:30pm, ABC/ESPN2)/BYU vs 5 Notre Dame (3:30pm, NBC)
NIGHT: 4 Kansas State vs 13 West Virginia (7pm, FOX)/14 Florida State vs Miami (8pm, ABC)/Penn State vs Iowa (8pm, BTN)
Sunday, October 21
EARLY AFTERNOON: Washington vs New York Giants/Baltimore vs Houston/Dallas vs Carolina
LATE AFTERNOON: NLCS Game 6 – St. Louis vs San Francisco (4:30pm, FOX)/ New York Jets vs New England/Jacksonville vs Oakland (actually watch a Blu-Ray instead)