Decision time is fast approaching for the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton.
How about this – 29,041 passing yards, 182 touchdowns, 86.1 rushing yards per game, 4,806 rushing yards and 58 rushing touchdowns in eight-plus seasons. These are Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s stats over his career to this point. On top of that, he was the 2011 Rookie of the Year, 2015 league MVP while posting a 15-1 regular-season record and a trip to the Super Bowl. So what happened?
Newton hasn’t been the same since that season and we all can see it. Many of us blamed it on the Super Bowl hangover teams often face after losing the big game. We blamed it on not having enough speedy receivers as he had with Steve Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey Brown, so the franchise brought in D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey. However, since 2015 he’s thrown just 19, 22 and 24 touchdowns after 35 and just 10 interceptions during his MVP year.
So I’ll ask again – what changed with Cam? What happened to the dab? What happened to the team pictures at the end of the games? That 2015 season had such good energy and then it just disappeared, but I think I’ve finally figured it out – FUN!
Newton and the Panthers have not had real fun since that season in which he was on the sideline with rappers like Jeezy and Future. Newton went from having fun and then appeared to be stiff, uptight and no longer enjoying football. Then he started dealing with injuries and a few offseason surgeries, but the truth is he’s been working and hurt. Having little to no fun while battling various health issues that extremely limited his usual capabilities.
So now what? Second-year quarterback Kyle Allen has been undefeated since taking over for the former first-round pick. The Panthers offense is moving the way we thought it would and they seem to be having some fun again. So when Cam returns all should be fixed – right?
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Allen brings a sense of energy to Carolina that we haven’t seen in years. The line appears to be blocking better as they enjoyed a huge win over the Texans and are now coming off a victory against the Buccaneers in London. After the bye week, they face a red hot undefeated San Francisco team whose defense has been historically good so far.
If Allen beats this team or if the Panthers choose to play Newton this week and Carolina looks lifeless, he may get a pass for the rust but not going forward. It is a dead given that trade considerations will be entertained this offseason, if not before. It’s said up to 10 teams have shown interest in the former MVP.
I believe Cam could go to another team and provide the same energy that he did at the beginning of his career, but as of now … his light may be growing dim in Charlotte.