A weekly analysis of the Panthers' quarterback play.
Rewind: Cam Newton didn't spend the bye weekend savoring his best performance of the season in a 38-0 victory against the Giants. He spent it focusing on things he could have done better. He took the blame for a first-quarter sack, saying all he had to do was step up to avoid it. He talked about how his alignment in the shotgun was off. He talked about how "terrible" the interception that was almost returned for a touchdown was. "It can't happen," he said. He also spent the bye week setting the tone in practice, sprinting to drills instead of jogging. He talked about practically everybody on the offense but himself. One more sign that the quarterback is maturing.
Fast-forward: The Cardinals have been stout against the run, but they haven't faced a running quarterback that will keep them off balance like Newton. As we saw against the Giants, when Newton runs early it helps him and the entire offense get into a rhythm and opens up the running game. Look for him to run early.
Targeting the tight end: Jimmy Graham was targeted 15 times by Drew Brees in Week 3 against Arizona. He caught nine passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Tampa Bay's Tim Wright led the Bucs with five catches for 41 yards last week. Look for Carolina's Greg Olsen, already Newton's top target with 16 catches, to be a big part of the offense.
Prediction: Newton hasn't had a 300-yard passing game since last November against Philadelphia, a string of eight straight games. He'll have one against Arizona.