There's no doubt the Panthers showed a deft hand in easing Cam Newton in to the NFL. Rob Chudzinski did a stunning job creating an offense that played to his unique abilities, and from there the rest is history. One area that Newton didn't need a great deal of help was in the play action pass.
Logic would lead to the assumption that having DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Strewart in the backfield would naturally lead to huge successes in the passing game when coupled with the PA pass. However, according to Football Outsiders the Carolina Panthers' passing offense was only 4% more effective off the PA pass, than without it. This is stunningly low, especially when you compare it to fellow rookie starter Andy Dalton (29.9%).
The goal of the PA pass it to freeze the defensive backs and open up the field. Naturally this would make it a lot easier for a young passer, so as a fan of the Carolina Panthers it's exciting to know that Cam didn't need the PA pass as a crutch, because sooner or later these plays get figured out.
More after the jump
In looking deeper into Cam's numbers here's what really jumped out at me:
- 20% plays run from Play-Action (League average is 19%)
- 7.6 YPA average off Play-Action (League average is 7.6 yards)
- 7.0 YPA average without Play-Action (League average is 6.2 yards)
What's really exciting about that final statistic is how well Newton ran the offense without the need of PA. The only QBs who had a better YPA off non play-action passes were Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Carson Palmer, Tom Brady, Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers; with the exception of Carson Palmer this is rarefied air.
At the end of the day you don't need more reminders that Newton was awesome as a rookie, but this is another area where you could see a sophomore slump isn't really viable. Cam didn't use PA as a crutch, and that bodes well for his future.