Is Cam Newton in Danger of Becoming a Wasted Franchise Quarterback?
By: The Football Girl | Posted: October 22, 2012
At 1-5, the Panthers are in danger of receiving the overall number one pick in the NFL draft for the second time in three years. This is not the fault of one particular individual, although now former general manager Marty Hurney deserves a lot of the blame.
The culture of losing in Carolina, poor coaching, and the litany of bad decisions by Hurney have led to very sad possibility: Cam Newton becoming a wasted “franchise” quarterback. Can a quarterback be a “bust” without actually playing like a bust?
When Newton was on the verge of being drafted he was famously given this label, and thrown into the JaMarcus Russell bin of mockery. While Newton had some issues with accuracy, his inherent skill set was not what concerned the masses; it was his off-the-field issues with contagious fears of laziness and a selfish attitude.
So when Newton exploded onto the scene in Superman-like fashion, everyone ate crow. Newton was a happy camper, and even through the losing charmed everyone with his megawatt smile. He pretty much had free reign to run and pass amok, which he did with overwhelming success. He was was part of the Dan Marino single-season passing record watch through the first six weeks of the season, and was eventually named to Pro-Bowl.
But Hurney and company failed to surround him with any other difference-makers. Then the calendar turned pages and the RG3 Show came to the NFL. In the process of being billed as the next Cam Newton, Griffin made Newton look like an understudy.
Griffin entered the league with more endorsement money, a cooler nickname, a large market and the thing Newton never really received, hype. A sad as this is Newton probably needed a little hand-holding during this period.
And, of course, once the 2012 season began Griffin out-Newtoned Newton in terms of exciting plays, winning and passer rating (101.8 for Griffin to Newton's 79.3.)
Carolina did little to help Newton have a successful second year. They drafted safely by nabbing LB Luke Kuechly in the first round. While some call him the next Brian Urlacher, this was not a kid ready to make an immediate impact. And that’s what Newton needed. Hurney and the Panthers really failed him on the open market, where they got him no real power player for any of the myriad holes on this team. A tackling defender would be a start, let alone a stud wide receiver still in his prime. I believe there were a Vincent Jackson and a Brandon Marshall available.
All the pressure has fallen on Newton, and it’s proving too much for him to bear. While he looks like his rookie year on certain drives, he cannot compensate for a defense that is allowing 24 points a game and an offensive line dealing with the loss of Ryan Kalil. Not alone.
Much more troublesome than the lack of success is Newton’s poor attitude. We’ve seen it at his last few press conferences, where he is completely doom and gloom. Yesterday he said he was turning to a suggestion box. Steve Smith can give Newton all the man-to-man pep talks in the world, but at this point he is much more cry-baby than leader. We have reached the point where we wonder is Newton is mentally solid enough for the job. Even Newton's father called out his son for a bad attitude.
Newton depressed and annoyed after the Panthers latest loss.
Of course Newton deserves blame for his temperament, but so do the Panthers for not adjusting to his potential pitfalls, which were clear well before he was drafted. This is not a leader, but he still is a franchise quarterback. And because franchise quarterbacks do not just pop up every year, the Panthers needed to figure out to bring some high-level talent on this team for support. As much as you would like your quarterback to rally-the-troops, Newton has already proven he is not that guy. But he is a guy with talent and size, a franchise quarterback who could blossom into that role given the right tutelage. He is not a grin-and-lead it Andrew Luck type who will be content waiting five years for a winning record. Newton is already starting to sink, and while he needs to figure out a way to handle losing with grace, the Panthers, who had to know what they were getting into here, need to figure out some way to massage his future. Otherwise he may get closer to JaMarcus Russell territory than any of would have thought.
Except Newton flashed us his talent, so his downfall would be all the more depressing.
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