Cam Newton’s second Panthers stint may help solidify former MVP’s future Hall of Fame record
Cam Newton is widely known for three things. The former Heisman Trophy winner and league MVP is an explosive athlete who plays the quarterback in a way few players have ever played in this position. Newton is almost as well known for his colorful and outgoing personality that shows up in touchdown celebrations as well as in his pre and post-game outfits. Controversy has also been part of Newton’s history, from his unceremonious departure from Florida, his recruiting of Auburn, the insensitive comments made to a reporter at a press conference in 2017, and his lack of enthusiasm. on a fumble near the end of Caroline’s loss to Denver in the Super Bol 50.
Once seen as a springboard for a future inductee into the Professional Football Hall of Fame, Newton’s career has deteriorated significantly since his MVP season of 2015. He has not made a single Pro Bowl since his MVP season, when ‘he led the Panthers to a 15-1 Regular Season Record. Since 2015, Newton has had only one season with a record of victories. Injuries contributed to Newton’s decline in production, as he missed most of the 2019 season with a Lisfranc fracture.
Newton’s only season in New England was in many ways a success. Quarterback of an evolving team (the Patriots led the league in COVID-19 strikeouts), Newton went 7-8 as a starter while completing nearly 66% of his passes. At 31, Newton had one of the best rushing seasons by a quarterback in league history, with 592 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns. But Newton’s lack of touchdown passes – a fair criticism – generated many more headlines in New England, where fans had grown accustomed to watching the greatness of Tom Brady for two full decades.
Newton’s stay in New England ended with his release before the start of the regular season. And after going unsigned for the first half of the regular season, it was reasonable to question whether the Single Human Reel had played its last meaningful game of football.
That all changed last week, when the Panthers – the team that released Newton in March 2020 – signed him to help save a season that started with so much promise. Injuries undermined the luster of Carolina’s 3-0 start, as Carolina won just one of its last six games before signing Newton. Ironically, the latest of those losses came against Newton’s other former team, the Patriots, which limited Carolina’s no-punch offense to just six points in an 18-point loss.
At the start of his second chapter in Carolina, Newton quickly informed everyone listening that his signing was not an act of novelty. Newton returned to help the Panthers save their season.
Newton’s impact was felt in Sunday’s surprising victory over the Cardinals, who entered the game as the NFC favorite. Newton started the game with a 2-yard touchdown. On the Panthers’ next possession, Newton landed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson. Before the Cardinals could blink, Newton had scored two touchdowns while helping the Panthers take a 14-0 lead. The Panthers never lost their momentum on their way back to .500. The 34-10 win also put the Panthers ahead of the Falcons in the NFC South Division standings. Carolina also gained ground over the Saints and Buccaneers, who lost their respective clashes on Sunday.
Given his inexperience in the Panthers system, Newton only played 12% of Carolina’s offensive snaps. But his energy and production in his limited role was contagious to his new teammates, who used that momentum to secure the team’s most impressive victory in Matt Rhule’s two seasons in Carolina.
“It was great. It was a lot of fun,” Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey said of playing with Newton again, via Joseph Person of The Athletic. “The energy he brings is unlike anyone I have ever met.
“Obviously the story has been Cam all week. One thing I see from Cam that is no different than what I’ve seen before is he’s here to win. Everyone’s here to win .… I think today was a good example of the team that we can be. “
In addition to helping jumpstart their season (the Panthers would be the seventh and final seed in the NFC playoffs if the playoffs begin today), Newton reminded everyone on Sunday of his unique talent as a double threat quarterback. Newton will surely continue to remind everyone of his unique skills as he continues to acclimate to the Panthers offense.
Beyond his talent, Newton reminded the footballing world that his presence, along with his talent, is one of the reasons he was one of the best players in the NFL for nearly a full decade. And if he can help hoist the Panthers to their first playoff spot since 2017, that would be yet another feather on Newton’s post-game cap when it comes to his Hall of Fame prospects. professional football.