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Friday, October 28, 2011
Cam Newton validating Panthers' work

By Pat Yasinskas

If you haven’t already seen Jeffri Chadiha’s excellent column on Cam Newton, I urge you to check it out.

With some great details, Chadiha explains how Newton has debunked every myth that was floating around when he was coming out of Auburn and into the NFL draft. There were a lot of rumblings that Newton wouldn’t be able to adjust to an NFL offense after running a supposedly simple system in college. There also were doubts he’d be able to work from under center after taking snaps in the shotgun formation in college.

Cam Newton
The Panthers have done a great job of developing rookie quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton has totally blown those doubts away in his first seven games. He’s proved the critics wrong. But the thing that people need to realize is that the Panthers deserve a ton of credit for cutting right through all the myths about Newton very early in the process.

General manager Marty Hurney did more homework on Newton than he ever has on any player. He spent lots of time talking to Newton’s former coaches and teammates. He also spent lots of time talking to Newton. He got a strong consensus that Auburn’s offense wasn’t as simple as it may have seemed to outsiders and that Newton could pick up any offense that was thrown in front of him.

Hurney spent months before firmly deciding he would use the No. 1 overall pick on Newton. He was leaning that way most of the time, but what might really have tipped the scales was when Hurney sent offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski and quarterbacks coach Mike Shula to meet with Newton and have the quarterback think and talk through plays.

Chudzinski and Shula came back to Hurney and confirmed what he already suspected -- they thought Newton could handle the Carolina offense.

Speaking of Shula, he’s perhaps the unsung hero in Newton’s spectacular rookie season. When you talk to Newton or anyone in the Carolina organization, you get the sense that Shula has developed a very strong bond with the rookie quarterback.

That’s not surprising. Shula took a lot of criticism when he was the head coach at the University of Alabama and offensive coordinator at Tampa Bay. But those who have worked with and for Shula think he’s an outstanding coach who relates very well to players.

He’s been a perfect fit for Newton. Shula is a guy who likes to keep a low profile, but he might not be able to do that much longer. If Newton keeps playing like he has, Shula’s name is going to start surfacing in talk about coordinator jobs in the future.