Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers hear what everyone has been saying about their team this year. They hear the critics talk about how fluky their undefeated record is, and how they cannot sustain the type of success they’ve had early this season. They hear it, and they really do not care, they just keep winning.
The Panthers are now 5-0, and Cam Newton deserves much of the credit. I have been very critical of Newton his entire NFL career, even going back to when he was on Auburn. I believed some of the games they won that year were with a great deal of luck.
Newton’s career numbers have never jumped off the page at you, and even his career record as a starting quarterback coming into this season was a pedestrian 30-31-1.
So why am I all of a sudden praising Newton? Well, he is starting to win games. The great quarterbacks in this league know how to win football games. It does not matter who’s around them, or how pretty they look doing it, they just win.
The Carolina Panthers have now won the NFC South two seasons in a row, (yes I know last year they won it with 7 wins) and they are looking like they’re on track to win the division again, sitting at 5-0.
You can credit the Panthers defense and you would make a great argument. Luke Kuechly is one of the premiere middle linebackers in the NFL today, and when they were 12-4 a couple of seasons ago, their defense was one of the best in the league.
But we have seen teams in the NFL have great defenses and not finish much better than 8-8. The Jets the last few seasons under Rex Ryan is a good example. This year, the Eagles have already forced 16 turnovers and their run defense is stout, but because there are a ton of questions at the quarterback position, they are just .500 at 3-3.
Teams need to have solid quarterbacks to win in the NFL now, and Cam Newton has been exactly that. He really does not have much of a running game. Jonathan Stewart is averaging under four yards a carry, and Newton is really the only other guy who has run the ball for Carolina.
Most of us, myself included, also expected Newton to struggle in the passing game this season without the help of second year wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was lost for the season after suffering a knee injury in preseason.
The leading wide receiver for Carolina has caught just 13 passes all season. They are relying on guys like Ted Ginn Jr., Corey Brown and Brenton Bersin. With the help of Greg Olsen at tight end, Newton is doing a lot with very little. That is the mark of a good quarterback, even if the stats are not eye- popping.
You know who else who has done a lot with a little over his career? Tom Brady. No, I’m not suggesting these two are even close, but the point I’m making is good quarterbacks find a way.
It’s only been five games this year, so we’ll see if the Panthers and Newton can keep this up. They finally have a chance to show the nation what they are made of when they host Philadelphia this Sunday night . If Newton really wants to make that next step in his career, he needs to continue to get it done this week against an Eagles team traveling on a short week, with a bye week following.
You can talk about yards, touchdowns and QBR all you want, but all Newton is counting is five, for 5-0.