With just three weeks gone of the 2020 NFL season, the Carolina Panthers already look to be wrong about Cam Newton.
The 2015 NFL MVP has made the most out of another starting chance with three tremendous performances. This has been a dagger in the heart to sections of the Carolina Panthers’ loyal fanbase who worshipped Newton and it has only increased the pressure on the team to get back into postseason contention at the earliest possible opportunity.
There was little disputing whether Newton still had what it takes to start in the NFL. That was never really the question.
He was playing at a very high level before injuries finally took their toll in 2018 that eventually led to 18 months of frustration and a parting of the ways with the Panthers at the worst possible time.
Cam Newton has been motivated by the Carolina Panthers
If Newton wanted some extra motivation in 2020, then he definitely received it in the form of poor treatment by Carolina.
It was evident from the player’s social media activity that he was bitter about the way things unfolded. And there are few that would deny Newton had good reason to be upset.
The signal-caller gave absolutely everything to the Panthers, sacrificing his body and propelling them to national recognition not seen before in their brief history.
Somehow, when it’s all said and done, the Patriots have ended up being the big winners yet again.
Bill Belichick is no fool. He might have a proven track record of flaunting the rules. But the way he builds a roster from the bottom up is the benchmark to which all NFL teams aspire to.
Getting Newton on the cheap already looks to be a masterstroke and one that might get them to an unlikely postseason berth despite a number of influential defensive players opting out due to COVID-19 health concerns. If the former No. 1 overall pick gets to the postseason whilst the Panthers still linger in their current rebuild, then it won’t take long for the finger-pointing to commence.
That is probably already happening, if truth be told.
Plenty thought Newton should have been given another chance to prove himself in Carolina and the longer he continues this renaissance, the more foolish people like general manager Marty Hurney, owner David Tepper, and head coach Matt Rhule are going to look.
Newton’s stats through the first three games are eye-catching, to put it mildly. He has logged a 68.1 percent completion percentage, 714 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. His ability running the ball has also resulted in 149 yards and four touchdowns off 35 touches to further enhance his overall influence on proceedings.
More importantly, he looks fitter and stronger than ever.
The Panthers need to be held accountable for this issue at some stage. Had they brought Newton back, it would have possibly allowed them to re-sign cornerback James Bradberry, who has also been tremendous for the New York Giants through three weeks of the campaign.
This is all well and good in hindsight, and the new regime was more than entitled to bring in their own guys, for good or bad. Teddy Bridgewater is a capable quarterback and a good scheme fit, but there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding their overall ambitions despite picking up their first win of the season at SoFi Stadium.
This is a cross they will now have to bear, especially if Newton continues to excel on his redemption tour.