An NFL player’s career can be seen as a shooting star; a short spectacle, but quickly out of our lives. A star player can similarly be seen as a supernova; a much more spectacular event that burns up just as quickly. The latter is a perfect comparison for Cam Newton, who’s own spectacular – albeit short – career is suddenly on the brink of burning out.
It was not but four years ago when Newton won MVP and was atop the NFL with the sense that the Panthers’ Super Bowl loss was only the beginning to a dynasty that would rival any.
Injuries started to pile up for Newton, and it appears that he has had just one too many to sustain his MVP-level play. After sustaining a recent foot injury, to go along with his shoulder injuries prior, it is fair for coach Ron Rivera to ask himself if it is Newton who gives the team the best chance to win here on out.
The Panthers kept Newton out for week 3, and according to Adam Schefter, he has already been ruled out for week 4.
“What Cam needs right now is time and rest for his foot,” Ron Rivera said. “We want him at 100 percent when he’s ready, so there’s no exact timetable for his return.”
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Going into the season, this would be thought to have spelled disaster for the Panthers. They built their entire identity around Newton and him missing any amount of time would sink their ship. However, that does not particularly feel to be the case.
Newton has been dynamic with the ball in his hands due to his dual-threat ability. While his accuracy has always been suspect with a 59.6 percent completion percentage, according to Pro Football Reference, Newton always made up for it with his ability to score on the ground. At 58 rushing touchdowns, he has more than double than any other quarterback since he entered the league.
Those days seem to be over.
Last year he logged his worst rushing season so far, and through two games this year, Newton has totaled just -2 rushing yards. If he cannot run, then you have seen what Newton is; an inaccurate pocket passer.
Due to his past shoulder injury, he no longer has the arm he used to have either. His average passing yards per attempt have dipped to 5.9 – a far cry from his MVP season of 8.3 per Pro Football Reference.
It is easy to see what Newton is lacking, but the Panthers had little choice to put him under center. Newton is still certainly the leader of this team – on the football field and in fashion – but they stuck with him due to the lack of talent at the backup quarterback position.
That is the case no longer.
It has been a small sample size, but Rivera cannot ignore what his eyes saw in new starter Kyle Allen this past Sunday.
With 261 passing yards and four touchdowns thrown, Allen looked poised and confident as he led the Panthers to their first win of the young season. For context, Newton has not thrown for four touchdowns since week 14 of the 2017 season. Yes, it was against the Cardinals and their subpar defense, but Allen looked solid. More importantly, he was able to capitalize on the talent surrounding him and showcase how dangerous the Panthers can be.
As good as Allen looked, Rivera is still adamant that Newton is their starting quarterback when healthy, according to Joe Person of The Athletic.com. Unfortunately, it is not known when Newton be activated by the Panthers.
Carolina travels to Houston to take on the Texans next week, but if Allen's success continues and the Panthers continue to win, it will make Rivera’s decision to stick with Newton much more difficult to defend.
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*preview photo credited to SportsCasting
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