The two interceptions were some of the worst I've seen this year (and we've had some shockers) but when you start throwing left-handed and underarm you set new standards for this sort of thing.
In their weekly 're-focused' look at Sunday's game the folks over at Pro Football Focus weren't singing the praises of Cam Newton on Sunday. They characterize him as an inconsistent QB while using a fairly belabored Isaac Newton reference, but the point remains
"For every great game that Cam Newton (-1.8) plays there is an equally appalling display just around the corner." So as if by magic, hot off a superb showing at Tampa Bay, he decides in this game to single-handedly squander a 13 point lead.
It appears that even objective third parties seem to identify Newton as the sole reason for the Panthers loss on Sunday. I think it's important to just understand that this is part of the process. If we consider a sub-50% completion percentage and equal to, or more INTs than TDs as 'costing his team the game' then when we look at Peyton Manning's rookie season we can identify three such games.
There seems to be an unhealthy amount of resentment whenever Newton is critiqued vs. any other player on the Panthers. Personally, I don't quite understand it. He is going to have bad games, if you doubted that then you probably need to readjust your expectations from rookie QBs. Saying he was mediocre, played terribly, or cost the Panthers the game doesn't mean he'll do that for the next 10 seasons. The future is still as bright as it ever was, but critiquing Newton is not a dirty word.
More after the jump
PFF went on to discuss Newton as a passer in 2011 and made an extremely good point:
The truth is if you take away his running he's a bottom third quarterback, if you include it (which obviously you must) he's at the bottom of the top third. If he can sort out the issues with accuracy and inconsistency he could go much higher than that.
So, in short they view Newton as being ranked somewhere between 21-32 as a pure passer, around 10-11 as a complete package and has to potential to be a top 5 QB. For a rookie campaign I'll take that every single day. It's better than anyone could have reasonably expected, but that doesn't mean that analysis of Newton as a passer isn't an apt one.
He is unique in two ways: a huge percentage of his bad throws are overthrows and when he does go astray, I'm not sure anyone misses by a bigger margin; the second interception must have sailed at least 10 feet over his target.
This doesn't really surprise me for one reason: his mechanics are still an inconsistent mess. If Cam attempts 30 passes in a game then we see around 10 where he's set his feet correctly, driven through his front foot and made what is considered a 'textbook NFL throw'. The touchdown to Naanee last week against Tampa is a perfect example of this. The next 7 of Cam's attempts tend to fall into the 'how did he do that?' category where his mechanics are a mess, but he somehow, someway wills a pass into a completion or big play; this is Newton's 'wow' factor, and where he does things no other QB can. The last section, those final 13 attempts are those that are just plain ugly. You can see where Cam wants to go with the ball, mentally you can see the progression and the justification for the pass, but they say 10 yards too high, 15 yards out of range, or wildly out of bounds.
I disagree that Newton simply needs to become 'more accurate' because I see a very accurate passer when he utilizes his mechanics, but he needs another full offseason of being guided to make sure those 10 good pass attempts become 15, then 20- when that happens the sky is the limit.