Through five games of the season and a 1-4 start, all signs point to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton experiencing a sophomore slump.
The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year’s numbers are down from last season, and many, including Newton’s coach, have pointed to opponents having a year of film to watch the tendencies of the dynamic quarterback.
But Newton dismisses that talk. It isn’t what other defenses are doing against the Panthers and their zone-read offense, he repeated Wednesday at his weekly press conference. It’s what the Panthers are doing.
“It’s not about (other teams making) adjustments. It’s about sticking our blocks, runners running the ball and protecting the ball, and players making plays,” Newton said. “The zone read is not something we created last year. It’s something that’s always been a part of the game of football and we’re just trying to use it as much as we can because it is a good play for us, especially with the talent that we have.
“So either way you look at it, is it the traditional style of offense that the NFL has possessed the past couple of years? No. But we all know that this game is not at a halt or a stop or a standstill by any means.”
People from Carolina head coach Ron Rivera to former Panthers general manager and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian have suggested this week that teams are figuring out ways to tame Newton’s game. With 21 NFL games now on tape, Newton’s abilities are well documented.
But offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said Monday that he doesn’t believe the book is out on Newton, and that he hasn’t seen opponents implement “earth-shattering” new defensive schemes.
“I don’t think so because I see opportunities and I see plays that are there that we’re making when we’re doing well and going good, and that we’re not making when we’re struggling,” Chudzinski said. “I think Cam has grown a lot and we need to continue to move in that direction. Some days you’ll have great days, some days you’ll have good days and some days you’ll have some not so good days. The key is that when those days do happen, you find ways to win.”
Newton doesn’t know what he’ll do this bye week, saying that he’ll “try some of everything.” He’ll continue to watch film while also spending time with his family and watching his younger brother play football.
“Everybody knows with this life, they don’t see you as Cameron Newton, they see you as Cam Newton,” he said. “And it can be frustrating at times, but this is the life that I chose and I’m going to try to live it the best I can.”
What’s the difference between Cameron and Cam?
“There’s a big difference,” Newton said. “You should spend a day with me and you’ll see.”