Early in his career, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton would deal with losing by separating himself from teammates on the sideline and sulking through post-game press conferences.
It’s not that Newton has become a good loser. But with the Panthers having gone nearly two months without a win, Newton and Panthers coach Ron Rivera say Newton is doing a better job of learning from losses and not letting them linger.
“It’s not about accepting anything. It’s just realizing you have to be better,” Newton said Wednesday. “You can’t get down on yourself because you’re not getting the results. If anything you just got to keep going back to the lab and working on your craft and your product, and make that art shinier.”
Newton has been mired in one of the worst stretches of his career while playing behind an offensive line that will start its sixth different combination in as many games Sunday at Minnesota.
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Newton has refused to point fingers at his offensive linemen, a fact left tackle Byron Bell held up Wednesday as a sign of Newton’s leadership. Rivera said Newton no longer mopes around for days after losses.
“I think he’s learned to put it in certain areas and deal with it at certain times and in certain ways. I think he’s learned to get past it a lot sooner and focus on going forward,” Rivera said. “I think he’s handling it very well.”
Many analysts have criticized Newton for reverting to bad habits and throwing off his back foot, a tendency likely linked to the protection problems.
“Sometimes the conditions of the game give you that,” Newton said. “And as a quarterback, whether it’s the back foot, front foot, one foot, it doesn’t matter. My job is to get the ball to the receivers the best way I know how.”
Newton said he needs to be more consistent to be considered among the game’s best quarterbacks.
“The thing that makes the quarterbacks that play at a high level great is their consistency,” he said. “At times it’s flashes, but it’s not enough flash or flair to win football games.”
Newton said he’s looking forward to trying to take advantage of an NFC South in which the 3-7-1 Panthers are only a half-game out of first place.
“We control our own destiny, but this destiny is no easy catch,” Newton said. “We have to be men about this. We have to be professionals about this and we’ve got to set the standard for ourselves to play at. And anything less than that is unacceptable.”