WASHINGTON – Last season, Cam Newton’s on-field exploits were must-see TV. He threw for more yards (4,051) and ran for more touchdowns (14) than any other rookie quarterback in NFL history, and he looked good doing it — even if his Panthers managed only six wins in the process.
This year, the top pick of the 2011 draft is attracting viewers off the field for a different set of reasons.
Newton’s postgame press conferences have been appointment viewing for his critics. He routinely pouts (even going as far as doing half of one presser with his eyes closed), and demonstrates an overwhelmingly obvious disinterest in even being there. That’s not to mention his sideline posture, which includes draping a towel over his head and isolating himself from his teammates when things don’t go his way.
This week, it appears Cam took it to another level. Newton’s presser this week was highlighted (or in this case, lowlighted) by a comment perceived to be criticizing his coaches, calling a reporter “sweetheart”, and offers a suggestion box for the media and (presumably) fans to give their input on how to fix the 1-5 Panthers.
Really not good.
Look, I get that he’s 23. God knows I wouldn’t have been in any position to speak publicly when I was that age. I’m also fully aware he’s not used to losing, given he very rarely lost in college (including an undefeated 2010 season at Auburn). But the kid has to know that as the quarterback of an NFL team (even a largely irrelevant team like Carolina), he’s the face of the franchise. And if that face is frowning and pouting and coming off like a crybaby after every loss, it’s a not a good look.
While I’m confident Newton’s “same script, by the same director,” comment was simply a poor choice of words and not an actual criticism of his coaches, Newton has to acknowledge his part in the losing. His numbers have steeply declined in 2012: Through six games, he’s thrown for five TDs and six interceptions, well off his pace from last year. He’s also had less impact running the ball. He’s on pace for half the rushing TDs of last season with more fumbles in 2012 (six) than he had in all of 2011 (five). His passer rating this year (79.3) is down from his 84.5 from his “epic” rookie campaign.
I’m no Cam hater. I think he’s an enormous talent and the Carolina fanbase deserves to have a franchise quarterback after years of mediocrity under center. But his rookie season was way overblown, given his average passer rating and his high number of turnovers. Robert Griffin III is in position to blow all of Newton’s numbers out of the water, and he’s on pace to do it without throwing picks in bunches.
Yes, the Panthers organization (who just fired their GM yesterday) has failed to put much high-level talent around Newton. Yes, the coaches should be running the ball more to take pressure off their young QB (especially given the high cap dollars committed to the running back position).
But instead of just doing his Sam Cooke routine, Cam needs to be about the change instead of just pining for it.
And that starts with #1.
Ok, let’s recap Week #7, shall we?
Seahawks 6 Niners 13
If you didn’t get why Jim Harbaugh declined the penalty at the end of the game, read this. It’s basically the only interesting thing that happened during this game.
Redskins 23 Giants 27
Washington was so close to first place they could taste it. It’s hard not to think that with Robert Griffin III playing like he has, they won’t be denied that flavor too much longer.
Titans 35 Bills 34
Wait…so the Buffalo defense is so bad they gave up 195 yards and two touchdowns to Chris Johnson? The guy who went from a 2,000 yard season to 2 yards per carry? Talk about your Music City Miracle…
Browns 13 Colts 17
We know how Brandon Weeden started his week We also know Andrew Luck ended his not getting mistaken for Peyton Manning.
Packers 30 Rams 20
Aaron Rodgers is the first QB to throw for 9 TDs and no interceptions in a two- week span since Tom Brady did it in his record-setting 2007 season. Now that’s the Discount Double Check we all know and love.
Cardinals 14 Vikings 21
While the two most surprising teams of 2012 faced off, I surprised myself with a sentence I never thought I’d say: Arizona needs Kevin Kolb back to be competitive.
Saints 35 Bucs 28
Four things to glean from this game:
1. Tampa stopped wearing those ugly creamsicle uniforms for a reason. Just burn those things, already.
2. Vincent Jackson isn’t as fast as we thought if he got caught and tackled on that 95 yard catch-and-run. Easily should’ve been a 96-yard touchdown.
3. Malcolm Jenkins is this generations’s Don Beebe for catching Jackson on that play.
4. New Orleans has won back-to-back games and suspended interim coach Joe Vitt returns this week. The Saints comeback is upon us.
Cowboys 19 Panthers 14
I love when underachievers get indignant . Especially when it’s a team with an inflated sense of entitlement like Dallas.
Ravens 13 Texans 43
For those keeping score at home, this is the first time Baltimore has ever lost to a Texas team (10-1 all-time against Houston and Dallas combined) and the first- ever 6-1 start for the Texans. Expect more horrid outings for the Ravens and more dominant showings for Houston.
Jaguars 23 Raiders 26 (OT)
If Maurice Jones-Drew is done for the season, so are the Jaguars.
Jets 26 Patriots 29 (OT)
Is it me, or does a Jets game ending on a Mark Sanchez turnover just feel normal?
Steelers 24 Bengals 17
No Troy Polamalu. Half the offensive line down. Mike Wallace playing like Morley Safer. Yet Pittsburgh takes a must-win game on the road against a division foe. I guess all the Steelers really need is Ben Roethlisberger.
Lions 7 Bears 13
The collective thoughts of Lions fans can be summed up in this 4-second clip:
At least the Tigers are doing well, right Detroit?