It is a pretty good piece: Cam Newton matures along with streaking Panthers with none of the qualified praise, equivocations, backhanded compliments etc. that usually accompany "positive" pieces. Still, I retain "why did we have to wait until Cam was WINNING to get some positive press" attitude. You have had QBs that did not play anywhere near as Cam did their first 2 years when their team was losing AND didn't produce a winner in year 3 that were generally covered positively in the press (cases in point: Sam Bradford and Matt Stafford). Another thing: I don't like the emphasis on "how Cam has matured" as if Cam's immaturity was the main reason why the Panthers only won 13 games in his first two seasons.
Balderdash. The Panthers didn't lose all those games because Cam was immature. They lost those games because the team stunk. And they aren't winning more games right now not as much because of Cam's maturity as it is because the talent is better (which has allowed the coaching to improve also). Cam didn't need to be more mature in 2011 and 2012. He needed a deeper WR corps with more guys that he had confidence in as he went through progressions and checkdowns. He needed special teams that didn't lose games (like his NFL debut against Arizona for instance). He needed a defense that would get teams off the field, force turnovers, and yes bail him out once in awhile. And he needed an offensive gameplan that didn't pretend as if the Panthers had "greatest show on turf" type talent on offense. Does this mean that I have given the team credit for the improved play as opposed to Cam? So what. First off, Cam himself says so. Bottom line: the whole "Cam has matured" canard gives too much legitimacy to the false idea that Cam was the reason why this team wasn't winning football games till now.
Second, even if he is more mature, consider this: his chronological age. Seriously. Cam is younger than most of the (good) recent QBs were when they came into the NFL. Seriously, the guy just turned 24 this year. Meanwhile Colin Kaepernick? Just turned 26. Andy Dalton? Ditto. Ryan Tannehill? Entered the NFL a year after Cam yet is 14 months older. Andrew Luck? A few months younger than Cam yet entered the NFL a year later. Russell Wilson? 6 months older than Cam but entered the NFL a year later. That means that RG3 is the only (good) recent QB that was about the same age that Newton was when he entered the league. (And a not-so-good one in Jake Locker was older than Newton was as well, as was Chris Ponder. Blaine Gabbert, meanwhile, is 6 months younger than Newton yet no one attributes his team's troubles to his immaturity.)
Keep in mind: a reason why Cam wasn't winning as much as some of the other young QBs was due to his alleged maturity problems. But, so Cam was less mature than guys who were in some cases 2 years older than he was? Guys who in some cases were already in their mid-20s and married? Wow! Who could ever imagine such a thing, let alone predict it? It is almost as if people mature as they age or something! I wonder if the American Psychological Association is aware of this! This novel, groundbreaking theory will turn everything on its head!
All right, I will concede one thing: that Newton plays more mature in that he is managing game situations a lot better. But when you consider Newton's background, why should that surprise us?
How many games did E.J. Manuel start in college? 34. Andrew Luck? 38. Geno Smith? 41. Robert Griffin III? Ditto. Andy Dalton? FORTY-NINE!!! Russell Wilson? The same. Colin Kaepernick? The same.
Cam Newton? 14. That's right, 14 games. That's it. That's all. 14 starts at the major college level. So Newton's improvement is directly the result of his finally having the same number of starts as most other QBs did when they took their first snaps as rookies. So apparently, not only to people mature when they age, but an athlete's game matures when he gets more experience! Wow. This will throw the coaching community on its head! Their long-standing practice of starting green rookies in championship games needs to stop!
Finally, keep in mind: Newton's improved play and the Panthers' winning didn't begin this year, but with winning 5 out of 7 last year, which incidentally coincided with the Panthers' switching to an offensive gameplan that actually makes sense, which the Panthers carried over into this year by retaining Mike Shula. It also had something to do with Newton's having 40+ big time football starts, about 26 in the NFL to go with 14 in college. But no one talks about that because it ruins the "Newton has matured" story line.
So yes, Newton is more mature. We should be happy about that because when people experience personal growth, that is a good thing. But please know that despite what the media claims, it has very little to do with the Panthers' winning games right now. But that is something that you will never see the folks in the national media or the opposing fans acknowledge, because they are going to keep seeing him as the guy who stole a laptop (never mind that the issue was resolved with the justice system and his leaving Florida) and who was implicated in a "pay for play" scandal (never mind that not even the FBI and the IRS could find a shred of evidence that the Newtons ever received a cent, and yes they did spend months investigating) until his winning a Super Bowl forces them to unwillingly abandon it.