Streeter Lecka - Getty Images
Have we been blind to what was unfolding in front of our eyes in 2012 Panther fans? Is Cam Newton suddenly in a full blown sophomore slump? Some have been saying he's been in it since late last season. I can't imagine something as abstract as a 'slump' abides by timing rules.
We didn't fathom it after a week 1 loss to the Bucs. Certainly not after the week 2 win over the Saints. But how could we have missed it after the prime time home blowout loss to the Giants? The inspired play from the rest of the team the next week in Atlanta might be to blame for ignoring it further. So now we get the big splash of cold water to the face...not Gatorade to the back of the head.
I'm not talking to all of you reading this, mostly to myself. Up until this point I wanted to believe Cam has that special 'it' factor that always meant he had a the ability to pull a game out at the end. He had come so close so often as a rookie even when his stats started to slip. We wanted to believe...yet now I realize our opponents have not only figured out how to defend Cam but it's easy to replicate by defenses week to week:
"We know he's a great dual-threat quarterback, but once we bottle it up and frustrate him, we know he's going to tank a little bit," Seahawks safety Earl Thomas told the Associated Press about Newton. "We were able to do that today."
Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said Monday he believes Newton is "pressing" too much. He thinks Newton isn't taking his check down passes as much. He's always looking for the big, vertical play.
I could argue part of the so called 'sophomore slump' is just what Earl Thomas is describing, that a defense figures out how to defend a player and the player struggles to adjust to it. Then every team does the same thing until the player figures it out...or not. It's the 'or not' part that really scares me. Remember Vince Young?
Now before you accuse me of going off the deep end with my analogies I'm a long way from saying Newton will end up like Vince Young. Newton is way more talented and already has proven he belongs. I'm just saying, to myself mostly yet again, I need to have more patience and I might be expecting a little too much too soon.
It is just one game and only five games into a 16 game season. We shouldn't try to indict every move the franchise has made as leading to this outcome. We should not draw comparison's to more 'poised' QBs that played this past Sunday:
Poised Russell Wilson has his best pro game | CharlotteObserver.com
"Today was ‘poise,’" Wilson said. "No matter what’s going on in the game, bring that to the table, bring that to our offense. And we definitely did that today."
I couldn't resist the gratuitous comparison ;)
Seriously, hats off to Russell Wilson for being the better QB on that day. Cam could certainly learn something from Wilson on footwork and moving around in the pocket. Beyond that I'm not going to extrapolate because it really doesn't mean much more than that.
I do believe Cam will overcome this slump if he truly is in one. Hopefully it happens this season.