Wednesday, October 30, 2013
QB Watch: Panthers' Cam Newton
By David Newton
A weekly examination of the Panthers' quarterback play.
Rewind: I'm running out of adjectives to describe Cam Newton's stellar play of late. His 111.6 passer rating in Thursday's 31-13 victory at Tampa Bay was his third straight game over 100. He also ran for a team-high 50 yards and a touchdown. He has a quarterback rating of 85 or better that represents the best three-game stretch of his career and third best of any quarterback in the league during that span. This one would have been even better had Ted Ginn Jr. not dropped a perfectly thrown pass that should have been a 73-yard touchdown. But as has been the case for most of this streak, Newton's efficiency has been built around short passes. He was 20-for-24 for 171 yards and two touchdowns on passes of 10 or fewer yards against the Bucs. All this from a quarterback who had completed less than 60 percent of his passes in his first two seasons. Quite prodigious. Hey, there's another adjective.
Fast-forward: Opposing quarterbacks are completing 65.9 percent of their passes against the Atlanta secondary. Carson Palmer was an efficient 13-for-18 for 172 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's victory over the Falcons. In other words, there's no reason for Newton's hot streak to end here, particularly when you consider he completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 502 yards and four touchdowns a year ago against Atlanta. Were it not for a late fumble, he would have gone 2-0 instead of 1-1 against the NFC South champions.
Running wild: That Newton is coming off a season-high 50 yards rushing against Tampa Bay has to worry the Falcons, who have struggled for two seasons against running quarterbacks. That Newton rushed 18 times for 202 yards and three touchdowns in two games against Atlanta a year ago has to be downright scary. The Falcons really haven't faced a running quarterback like Newton all season.
Five-man fronts: Newton struggled against five or more pass-rushers early in the season, but that issue appeared to be corrected against Tampa. He went 11-for-15 for 84 yards and two touchdowns against that front. He had only two touchdown passes against five or more pass-rushers in the first six games.
Prediction: If the Falcons don't find a way to pressure Newton, this could get ugly. Even if they do, because of their recent history against running quarterbacks, this could get ugly. Look for Newton to have his fourth straight game with a passer rating over 100. Look for him to run for a touchdown as well.