Carolina Panthers Monday Morning Optimist 12/10/12

Grant Halverson

A win is a beautiful thing.

When the Carolina Panthers have won this season it's fallen into some variation of "we didn't learn anything". This is what happens when you beat the early-season New Orleans Saints, the dysfunctional Philadelphia Eagles, and a Washington Redskins team who have had mixed success. However, when you beat an 11-win team, that says something about a team who haven't given up, despite a disappointing season.

There's no way to really know what changed, but Cam Newton has been a new quarterback over the last month. It's more than just a shift in play-calling leading to an advantage, as Newton's ability as a pocket passer has improved leaps and bounds for no apparent reason. It's almost as if a light switch popped on, and all of a sudden the game has slowed down. Not only is he commanding the pocket better, but Newton is trusting his receivers more. That's the primary reason the offense has looked like a different team.

The biggest offensive difference was seeing big plays return to Carolina. There have been moments, but all too fleeting this year. Against the Falcons we saw a 72-yard Cam Newton run, and a 53-yard DeAngelo Williams catch become the key difference makers, and the reason the Panthers win.

What else did we learn on Sunday? Oh yeah, to leave Vegas to Vegas, and don't listen to me. There's a reason I'm a writer, and not a professional gambler.

Optimistic

Cam Newton - Extremely Optimistic

He's back! In the last four weeks Cam Newton has thrown for 1,077 yards, 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, while adding another three touchdowns on the ground. He's been absolutely sensational, everything we could ask for, and more.

Luke Kuechly - Extremely Optimistic

Luke just keeps getting more tackles. At this point it's getting silly. With another 16 (11 solo), the rookie is on pace for 160 tackles, setting a rookie record for the Carolina Panthers.

Steve Smith - Extremely Optimistic

Another week, another 100-yard game. Just as Cam Newton is coming out of his funk, so too Steve Smith is seeing a resurgence. Another 1,000 yard year for Smitty, and it's proof positive why he's one of the best.

Greg Olsen - Extremely Optimistic

The Panthers' tight end is quietly on pace for an 848 yard season with 5 touchdowns - Olsen has played like a 1,000 yard tight end, even if he hasn't always gotten the opportunities. Given that the price to bring him to Carolina was a third round pick, it's safe to say Hurney got that one right.

Coin tosses! - Extremely optimistic

The Panthers are undefeated when they win the coin toss... it's about time.

Pessimistic

Playing not to lose - Extremely Pessimistic

Two things happened in the fourth quarter that helped save the game: Firstly, the referees denied Roddy White's two point conversion. Secondly, Cam, DeAngelo, and Amini combined to get the 53-yard play that put the Falcons away. What was still concerning on defense was the willingness to sit in a soft-zone, and allow Atlanta to pick them apart underneath. Unlike previous weeks the defense held, but this is a dangerous trend.

Overall outlook

The season is over, and while a win costs draft spots, I'd trade any pick for the reassurance that Cam Newton's rookie season wasn't a fluke. The last four weeks have reassured his ability as an NFL quarterback. While he's not perfect, and still has a lot to work on, he's playing great football.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Cat Scratch Reader

You must be a member of Cat Scratch Reader to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cat Scratch Reader. You should read them.

Join Cat Scratch Reader

You must be a member of Cat Scratch Reader to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Cat Scratch Reader. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9341_tracker