Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

Grading Cam Newton's First Game Back

Carolina Panthers fans were ecstatic to see Cam Newton under center on Sunday night.  Though he played just over a quarter, we were able to get a small snapshot into what we can expect with Newton in year four.

The Good: 

  • Cam’s cannon has rested well, as we saw some serious zip on the ball a few times.  Several passes were drilled into the smallest of windows, demonstrating that SuperCam has not lost his touch.
  • Even with a bum ankle, Newton was still agile in the pocket and extended the play longer than most signal callers would have been able to.  He was far from his usual slippery self on the run, but it almost looked as if he was purposely trying to initiate these mobile situations.
  • Newton and Benjamin look to be the new de facto connection, and nobody in Panther Nation is complaining.  The two just missed each other on a deep timing route down the sideline as the ball grazed just out of Benjamin’s reach.  It won’t be long before that incompletion turns into six points for Carolina.
  • Ace Boogie did an excellent job at trying to get all receivers active.  With a completely overhauled cast of receivers, Newton has a short amount of time to get on the same page with everyone.  It will be a work-in-progress throughout the season, but it’s nice to see Cam making his progressions.

The Bad:

  • Cam still thinks his receivers are 7-feet tall.  Lots of high throws and bad timing on a majority of his passes.  He is rusty, so take this with a grain of salt, but the high sailing passes are getting old in year four.

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

  • His mobility is not 100% and that elusiveness was not fully back.  Again, this will dissipate as the year progresses, but it was like watching a 32-year old version of Cam Newton at times.  It was like the jukes, head fakes and nasty moves that once worked against pursuers, did not have the same affect.
  • A negative attribute that is a huge flaw in unsuccessful quarterbacks, is still haunting Newton.  Staring down his receivers and targets too often has been one of his most frustrating traits over the past three seasons, and it looked no different last night.  Several times Newton glanced over to his would-be target, did not look off any of the defenders, and delivered the pass to the same player.  This has got to change immediately.


Cam had the typical cherubic smile sparkling as he warmed up and could not wait to get back on the field.  Though the box score and overall energy in the game was minimal, Newton’s leadership on the field spoke volumes.  He looked very rusty in his return and definitely had some nerves getting the better of him early.  Newton settled in and led some pretty solid scoring drives and balanced the pass-to-run ratio beautifully.  This team truly looks like it is under his guise and where he steers the ship, it will go.  GRADE: C

What do you think Cat Crave Nation?  How would you grade Newton’s first appearance of 2014?

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