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Does Cam Newton Have a Beautiful Football Mind?

Dan Pompei with National Football Post does a nice job interviewing Panthers OC Mike Shula and his father legendary Dolphins HC Don Shula.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The part that struck me was the younger Shula saying he thought Newton is not only a great athlete but that he has a good football mind as well:

NFP Sunday Blitz | National Football Post
Newton also came to the Panthers as strictly a shotgun passer. But he has made significant strides under center. Last year in 375 shotgun attempts, Newton had a passer rating of 82.9 according to STATS LLC. In 110 snaps under center, he had a passer rating of 97.4. His completion percentage also was better under center--.590 to .573. So more snaps under center, particularly using play action, might be a part of Shula’s vision for the QB. "That just shows me what his football mind is about," Shula said. "He has a great football mind."

Speaking of great football minds, Shula has one on speed dial:

"He is a great resource, a constant sounding board," Mike Shula said of his father. And so the younger Shula has set out with some time-tested philosophies on how to take Newton’s game to a higher level in his third season. Newton has been praised more for his size, speed, athleticism and arm strength than for his mind. And Shula praises those other attributes as well.

Part of that means tailoring the offense to the quarterback. "We want his comfort level the highest it’s ever been," Shula told me. "We looked at the things we’ve done our first two years. The things we do well, we want to continue to build on. The other stuff, we look at how we can do it better or get rid of it. We’re looking at different ways for him to think faster and play faster on the field."

Shula then talks about striking that perfect balance between using the athlete versus the quarterback:

He is in search of the perfect balance between using the athlete and using the quarterback. "That first year you wanted to do everything with him, and we still do," said Shula, who had been the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach prior to this year. "The challenge is to keep him healthy doing those things."

For these reasons I think Shula is going to shake the reputation that remains from his days in Tampa and will instead have a lot of success in Carolina. He not only has arguably the most athletic QB in league history but one with a beautiful football mind to go with it.