The topic of 'sophomore slump' came up prior to the season, and while some outlets were predicting a Vince Young-esque collapse, here we took a more measured approach. Despite a rough start to the season, Cam Newton is now settling into his rhythm, playing more naturally, and the result is Carolina's second-year quarterback looking every bit of the player he did in 2011 -- and then some.
There was cause to be concerned 5-6 weeks ago. Newton looked a shadow of his former self. The quarterback's unwillingness to throw deep, coupled with bad mechanics, questionable decisions, and holding onto the ball far too long, resulted in a lot of coverage sacks; something Crawford Rundlett wrote about. In the last month he looks self-assured, he's maturing, and much like his early season struggled went beyond the box score, so too Newton is now doing the little things right, even against poor competition.
Back in May when we were discussing the potential of a 'sophomore slump', I wrote the following:
I think it will really depend on how you view the idea of a ‘slump'.
I don't think Cam will throw for 4000 in 2012. I don't think he'll run in 14 touchdowns... however, I do think he'll improve his accuracy, QB rating, throw more TDs and cut down his interceptions.
We should hope he finishes with around 3500 yards, 30 TDs and 12 INTs- because if that happens it means the offense has become more balanced, and that will result in more wins.
Earlier this season it looked impossible, but after the last month everything has changed. Care to know what Cam Newton is projected to finish with now?
3,963 yards, 29 total touchdowns, 12 interceptions.
Newton will throw for more yards than projected, and he won't improve his completion percentage -- but the way he's taken care of the football in recent weeks has been astonishing, Cam will also finish with a better QB rating. It looks like Newton is starting to understand the value of each posession.
Most importantly: He's starting to get it. Cam is understanding that there will be another day, and there is a balance that can be found between competitor and teammate. Whether he'll be a leader, or simply the Carolina Panthers' best player remains to be seen, but if nothing else gets achieved in 2012, seeing Newton mature will be worth the nine-plus losses.