Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The Carolina Panthers brought stability to
their quarterback position when they selected Cam Newton with the top pick of
the 2011 draft.
As a bonus, it appears the franchise has also landed its long-term leader both
on the field and in the locker room.
There was plenty of blame to go around the Panthers following their Week 1
loss to the Tampa Buccaneers by a 16-10 margin. There was a ground game that
managed just 10 yards total and a defense that was solid but failed to force a
turnover or prevent Tampa Bay's run game from controlling the clock.
And there was Newton, who threw for over 300 yards but contributed just four
yards on the ground and was picked off twice.
The 23-year-old could have chalked it up to Week 1 rust, pointed fingers at an
ineffective ground game that was without Jonathan Stewart because of an ankle
issue or simply shrugged his shoulders and called it a loss.
Instead, Newton put the weight of the setback on his own shoulders.
He called one of his two picks "disgusting" afterwards and said he felt the
team could have found a way to win if not for his two interceptions. The
reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year apparently didn't back down from that
assessment after talking with head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday.
"In typical Cam fashion, he put it on himself -- things he felt he could have
done better, things he felt he could have handled better," Rivera said at his
press conference the following day. "I think the one thing he has done is he
has opened up and has been a little more vocal about it, which I think is
good. I think the more he says, the more he's out the about it, the better off
he'll be and that's my opinion."
During his turn at the podium on Wednesday, Newton altered his approach a bit.
While he is quickly becoming the new face of the franchise, he made sure to
stress that it will take an entire team effort to get things going in the
"I think we have to focus on offensively starting fast, everybody being
accountable of what their job is," stated the quarterback. "You go back and
watch the game, we had our opportunities. I think the defense did enough for
the offense to carry us to a win. We are better than 10 points offensively.
"If you go back and look at (the game versus the Buccaneers), down by down
it's a different person and coach pointed that out. That can't happen. If we
want to be the team we know we can be, 11 guys have to be on board each and
Many wondered just what kind of NFL player Newton would develop into after a
perhaps unfair stigma followed him from his college days, when it was found
that his father had attempted to secure money from Mississippi State when his
son was preparing to transfer from junior college.
Newton, who eventually transferred to Auburn, was briefly suspended, but was
instead deemed eligible because he did not know about his father Cecil's
Newton's maturity isn't going unnoticed. Aaron Kromer, interim head coach of
Newton's opponent on Sunday, the New Orleans Saints, sees the Carolina QB
taking big steps forward in the passing game.
"When you talk about the yards that he had last year, there were a lot of hard
play action passes, throwing deep balls and gaining a lot of yards," said
Kromer. "This year, it looks like they have the full spectrum of the passing
game that he is ready to handle and they are expecting him to handle.
"It sure looks like they are opening the playbook for Cam Newton."
Losing is not something that sits well with Newton. He did not suffer a single
defeat during his junior season with the National Championship-winning Auburn
Tigers and turned a two-win Panthers club into a 6-10 club during his record-
setting rookie campaign.
Many expect Newton to take his Panthers another step forward in 2012. He is
already on his way there as a leader.
The Sports Network