Cam Newton will always look back at this first experience in the Pro Bowl as a blessing and reward for an outstanding rookie season, or at least it started that way. I will say again it was an accomplishment getting to the game in the first place, it shows his individual achievement throughout a productive season, and hopefully for him he is selected to many more. Yet, with that said, I don’t think Cam is too happy about how he played in the game.
When Newton was handed the keys to the Jaguar that is the NFC Offense, the game had not yet been decided and a battle would ensue to finish the game. As the 2nd half wore on many like myself could see the AFC defense smelling blood and wanting a victory. A 55-yard TD pass from Newton to Steve Smith at the 11:12 mark of the 3rd quarter gave the NFC the lead and one thought the Jaguar may be in good hands. Up 35-31 would be the last time the NFC held a lead. Fellow rookie Andy Dalton would go on to hook up with eventual Pro Bowl MVP Brandon Marshall for an amazing 47 yard TD later in the 3rd quarter. It then went from bad to worse, as Cam ended up with 3 interceptions and a horrible attempt at a tackle after being intercepted. Through a sequence of plays that started with Newton scrambling to his right trying to make a play, then he overthrew his receiver. After the interception AFC Safety Eric Weddle fumbled the ball and it was then picked up by LB Derrick Johnson. Johnson had a Touchdown in mind once picking up the ball because he outran lineman for more than 30 yards. It came down to him and Newton and Cam looked like he was playing flag football reaching out with one hand as if to pull a flag off of Johnson as he ran into the endzone.
It just seemed that Newton was out of place after his first TD pass. Finishing the game with a 44.8 rating will definitely be something of a distant memory. He completed only 9 passes out of 27 with two touchdowns. He was making mistakes a rookie would understandably make. Some may forget that is just what Newton was in the Pro Bowl and looked like. A rookie playing crunch-time in a game he looked unprepared for. A tip ball goes the other way, or a few more accurate passes connect and we may have seen a more competitive game. Not to say Newton won’t redeem himself sometime again in the game, I believe he will have plenty of opportunities to make his Rookie Pro Bowl performance remain just that (an underachieving, rookie Pro Bowl performance). I can only imagine this fuels his offseason workout fire. The Pro Bowl just showcased even more what Cameron already knows he needs to work on. Several inaccurate and overthrown balls will come with time and work. The benefit Cam Newton and his young Carolina Panther team will have, from a full offseason of training camps and individual workout will be tremendous. Steve Smith also showed why he will be key in the maturation of Cam’s passing game and part of a potentially NFL dominating Panther offense. Smith finished the game with 119 yards receiving on 5 catches, with one big-time TD catch from his Carolina teammate.
The future looks very bright for Cam Newton. His performance in the Pro Bowl did not show me anything previously unknown. He still has the ability and arm to do a lot, more than 90% of QBs because of his running ability. The upside is still through the roof and he accomplished a lot in his rookie season. Better decision making will come with time as well. Of course we would have liked him to throw 3 TDs and win MVP, I’m sure he would have liked that too! Going to Hawaii was the “Cherry on Top” of the successful “Ice Cream Cake” season Cam Newton had. Therefore if he played great at the Pro Bowl he would’ve been able to “have his cake and eat it too,” ….and we all know that nobody can do that. Even more of a reason why the very competitive Newton will be back to redeem himself and prove otherwise.