This was supposed to be the week where Cam Newton got healthy, against a beleaguered defense that was down two cornerbacks and just got de-pantsed by 40-year old Tom Brady, after making Sam Bradford look like a younger Tom Brady in the opener.
A funny thing happened on the way to Cam rebuilding his once-promising career: He was sacked four times, intercepted three times, and eventually pulled from a 34-13 blowout home loss to the previously-winless New Orleans Saints. Newton had the 3rd worst passer rating of his career (43.7).
Newton won the MVP in 2015. But in his last 16 games, he’s thrown 16 TDs and 16 interceptions.
That’s just the beginning.
What happened to the once-fearless runner?
Cam, at the behest of his coaches, is trying to become more of a pocket passer because as you saw last year, nobody wants highly-paid franchise QBs taking big hits. Because Cam put a target on his back with all those celebrations during his MVP season, defenders want to smash him in the open field. Through three games in 2017, Newton has carried 14 times for a paltry 46 yards and a TD.
Back during his MVP year, he averaged over 39 yards rushing a game. In the first two years of his career, that figure was over 40 a game.
He’s only 28 years old, but suddenly, he’s gone from MVP of the NFL, and potential face of the league, to a guy who can’t hit open receivers, is thinking too much in the pocket, and isn’t playing with confidence. How much is his shoulder bothering him following offseason surgery?
It’s sad to see.
Back-to-back road games are up next – at New England (another bad secondary) and at Detroit (a secondary that can be exploited) – and then the Eagles, who have a young, beat-up secondary, but a nasty front seven.