Cam Newton was picked #1 overall by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft for his physical gifts and potential. The “knock” on him was justified – he’d had a single year of SEC-level college ball, despite winning the Heisman Trophy, and a season at Blinn Junior College after seeing very little playing time as a Freshman at Florida.
Simply put, he was raw.
As a result, he never had a college “mentor” that was able to help him learn and grow from year to year and that was something to be corrected at the professional level…or so we thought.
Have a look at Drew Brees in the photo here – and by the way, click on the arrows in the upper-right corner of the ad across the bottom of the picture to close it so you can see better.
Look at his legs and feet. He has a very nice, wide base, which puts him in position to get rid of the ball both quickly and accurately, and it’s a habit ingrained into him so much now that he doesn’t have to think about it. It’s in his “muscle memory” and he subconsciously puts himself in the proper position, freeing up his conscious mind to make the defensive reads and anticipate.
It’s something all the great quarterbacks generally do, and part of the problem is Cam’s physical gifts, ironically.
I don’t think anyone with a whole lot of sanity would dispute the fact that Cam Newton has far greater physical gifts than do pretty much all the established greats of today like Brady, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers.
Brees isn’t tops in ANY category, but he’s good at everything. He has a good arm not a great one. “Good enough” mobility and elusiveness, but not a great running threat. Brady’s arm has never been described as cannon-like. Cam’s often is. Peyton Manning had his first rushing TD in five years a couple of weeks ago, so scrambling isn’t his forte’ and he’s not so strong that he breaks potential sacks like Cam or Big Ben. AR-12 does have good mobility and arm strength, but he’s not the hulk that Cam is.
Speaking of Tom Brady, look at his photo here. Brady is facing his target, squared-up with his lead (left) foot pointing at the spot he’s trying to hit. That’s textbook, and Brady’s own accuracy is right up there with a Drew Brees or Peyton Manning.
In fact, ask Rob Ryan how accurate Brady was with his game-winning pass against the Saints last week. The ball was literally only a few inches out of reach of being tipped by the defender, just over his outstretched fingers.
Now, look at the photo of Cam. Yes, he’s being pressured in the particular photo here, but he often throws this way when he’s not. He’s too upright, throws off his back foot too often, or simply stands with his feet not even moving and relies completely on his strong arm to make a throw.
That’s how interceptions and incompletions happen.
What’s frustrating is sometimes Cam does get his body into position and a broad base, stepping into his throw and following through properly, but it’s not yet a habit that is second-nature to him.
Again, you can’t quite see his actual feet, but you can tell where his thighs are. Here, Cam appears to be set up correctly with a nice, wide base, in the process of stepping into his throw as he launches the pass, and likely following through. Just ignore the fact that Vikings’ defender, Everson Griffen, is being held in the photo. Hehehe. (shaking my head)
I think if I were Cam’s QB coach, I’d pick out some film of Brady, Brees, and others that show good throws they make, then one showing an off-target through where their own footwork wasn’t the best for whatever reason. Nobody’s perfect, and yes, pressure can force you to get rid of the ball before you want to. I get that much.
What I’m saying is Newton too often uses “just” his arm to throw a pass when he has plenty of time to do it the right way, and that’s a coaching issue.
Every single week I’d hammer away at it with the young QB. Here are the passes you made, and here’s why you threw behind your receiver or here’s why you missed the open guy.
Then, I’d take him out onto the practice field with dummies/static targets and make him stand inside a shallow box – to prevent him from properly using his feet, have him make ten throws at a given target, and record the results. Then, I’d take the box away and give it to a needy cat or something, and put up some sort of small obstacle between his feet after having him take a “proper” throwing stance where he could step from a wide base but not move his feet back together, have him make ten throws at the same target as before, record the results, and then have a discussion about how each position felt.
Here again, against Buffalo where he did not have a good game, you can see the “skinny” base he’s using and just flicking the ball to a receiver.
No, no, no, Cam…unless your target is inside ten feet away or so, you need to square up with that wide base, step toward your target and even point that lead foot at it, wind up, throw, and follow through.
It’s done that way with ANY object you want to accurately throw whether it’s a baseball, a football, or in the back yard with a rock and a bucket….try it yourself.
There’s nothing new here. It’s all about how the Human body works, not some magical formula for accurately placing a thrown object.
This is NOT what you want to see in the footwork. His right (back/plant) foot should be firmly planted on the field turf. His left (front/stride) foot should be flat on the ground, turned close to 90 degrees from the rear one and also firmly on the turf. No Tim Tebow “jump” passes here, Cam!
Why this hasn’t been corrected in two and a half years now, I can’t say. I can say that as long as he has sloppy footwork, he’ll throw a lot of off-target passes.
Cam has the innate talent to be the best QB in the NFL, bar none. All these “great” QBs I’ve compared him with have lesser athletic ability and physical tools than does Cam. What they DO have going for them is that all the fundamentals have been so ingrained that it’s automatic. Sure, they still miss some throws but it’s usually by inches, not by yards that some of Cam’s throws are off-target.
Finally, we see a lot better drop-back from Cam here. His back foot is firmly planted parallel to the line of scrimmage as he’s in the process of picking up that front foot so he can step into his throw.
If he could simply do this on every throw, I think we’d see his effectiveness increase considerably and the offense score more points.
Meanwhile, we wait.
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