Cam, whoaaaa Cam!
The first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton has put up some fantastic numbers passing the football. And for good reason; the Panthers franchise quarterback has one of the more talented arms in the league. There isn't a throw Newton can't make.
We've seen Newton improve as a passer throughout his career, but still there are instances, some weeks more frequent than others, where Newton's game devolves into the unruly. To this day, the three-year pro has periodically struggled with overthrowing his receivers. Not by a small margin either.
The problem stems from Newton's footwork. Footwork is a fairly nebulous term when it comes to the fundamentals of quarterbacking. Specifically, the Auburn product's penchant to sail passes comes with his failure to get his front foot planted in the turf as he makes his throws. The front foot needs to be down as the quarterback goes through the throwing motion. A fraction of a second too late, and the throw is off.
Mechanically, in planting the front foot, the passer stabilizes his weight going into the pass, and can drive off of that foot, granting the quarterback more control, and power.
Here are two homogenous concepts that target the same receiver at a nearly identical depth; the first, from Week 1 versus Seattle, the second, Week 15 against the Jets.
The Panthers run 4-verts against Seattle's combo coverage. Seattle runs Cover 3 to the right half of the field. The numbers, three receivers versus two defensive backs, give Carolina the advantage. Brandon LaFell has the opening, and Newton sees him. Cam doesn't get his front foot planted until the ball comes out of his hand, thus the ball sails over LaFell's head.
As Newton cocks his arm, only his toes are on the ground.
And as the ball comes out of his hand, Newton's foot isn't firmly planted in the turf. Therefore his weight is still shifting. The QB is pushing the football, rather than driving off of that front foot, diminishing his control over the throw.
Here's the same throw Week 15.
The Jets are in Tampa-2 coverage, with the Mike LB responsible for the deep middle of the field. Newton gets his front foot planted early, and drives the throw right into the shrinking window between the LB and the Safety. It's an impressive throw; basically a forty-yard line drive.
Newton gets his front foot planted as his arm comes back.
This should be something that Newton improves on as he gets more reps in game. There's the saying that Rome wasn't built in a day. Well, neither were Tom Brady/Peyton Manning. That's not to say Newton will evolve into a hall of fame signal caller, but there's no reason he won't improve as he gestates.