Panther Tracks

Cam Newton debates: Kellerman gives him a pass; Cowherd says he doesn’t win enough.

A little more than 12 hours after Cam Newton turned in a woeful performance on Monday Night Football, longtime Newton basher Colin Cowherd took nearly seven minutes to open his Fox Sports national TV talk show to rub salt into Newton’s already sore shoulder.

ESPN’s Max Kellerman, on TV a couple hours before Cowherd, took the opposite view.

Let’s start with Colin.

“Cam Newton doesn’t win enough,” Cowherd said. “He’s never had back-to-back winning seasons, and he’s not going to have one now. That’s virtually impossible when you have his talent. Think about it. He’s on a six-game losing streak. The dysfunctional Raiders haven’t lost six straight games this year. ... The perpetually dysfunctional Tampa Bay Buccaneers haven’t lost six straight games.”

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Cowherd mocked, more than anything, Newton’s current shoulder injury. When Newton was healthy this season,the Panthers were 6-2 and he was in the discussion for MVP. Cowherd even called him the “MV-C” or Most Valuable Cam, saying he’d never seen Newton play better.

But Newton took a wicked hit from Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt in the loss that started the losing streak. The crown of Watt’s helmet smacked Newton square in the shoulder.

Newton’s passing ability, and Carolina’s season, were never the same after that.

But Cowherd, staying on task, pointed out that Russell Wilson’s longest losing streak is two games; Andrew Luck and Big Ben, he pointed out, have had four-game losing streaks.

“Well,” Cowherd said, voice raising to a whine, “he’s hurt. Oh Cam’s always a victim. By the way, he’s had the same head coach for years. Eight offensive Pro Bowlers the last seven years. (Christian) McCaffrey will be nine.”

With Atlanta coming up on a short week and New Orleans after that, Cowherd said the Panthers could very well be headed for an eight-game losing streak. But he doesn’t think Carolina will move on from Newton any more than the Oklahoma City Thunder will move on from point guard Russell Westbrook.

“Carolina,” Cowherd said, “is absolutely trapped. Carolina has become the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NFL. They have an iconic superstar in a small market, who’s hard to coach, who doesn’t play well with others. He’s completely flawed but he’s got that one MVP year, that one trip to the Super Bowl and they’re keeping him until the arms fall off.”

Over on ESPN, the “First Take” talk show ran a poll asking “Has Cam Newton peaked.” By the end of show, nearly 75 percent of the 11,000 respondents said yes.

Co-host Max Kellerman didn’t necessarily agree with that.

“Cam Newton is the best example ... of a one-man band on offense without being a pocket passer,” Kellerman said. “(New Orleans Monday night) was a close game without a shoulder against Drew Brees. ... If you want to criticize a hurt Cam Newton now, on an inferior team losing by a little, where is the criticism of Drew Brees, who’s having an MVP season, right?

“Cam Newton absolutely deserves a pass. There’s cause for great optimism about his future. I still haven’t forgiven him for not jumping on that loose ball in the Super Bowl. But other than that, he’s been to a Super Bowl, he was excellent this season. His team seems to be trending in the right direction when he’s healthy.

“Of course he deserves a pass.”