Last week, former Carolina Panther and now Buffalo Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin took a jab at his former quarterback, Cam Newton. His recent comments bring to light the hard criticisms Newton has faced throughout his career.
Now, we don’t expect a lot from Benjamin, a former Panther who obviously looks a little bitter from getting traded. But we do expect a lot from Cam. For some, people expect many good things meanwhile others believe it is time for Newton to explode this season.
This week, the two former teammates get a chance to battle it out as they get ready for this upcoming season. The Bills will host Carolina Week 1 of the preseason on Thursday night. Surely Newton will remember Benjamin’s comments dismissing his his accuracy when the two matchup this week. Cam will also not forget that Benjamin said the Panthers were not the right fit for him, which to an extent you could say was true, as Carolina went 23-3 without him.
Even so, Benjamin’s criticism gave both Newton supporters and haters a chance to either praise him or jab him. Cam is one of the more elite quarterbacks in the league, becoming more polarizing than most other QB’s. He does it all from trash talking to dancing on the field when he scores a touchdown.
Nonetheless, he has his weaknesses as well. Over the course of his career, Cam has played with Benjamin, 6-5, Greg Olsen, 6-5, and Devin Funchess, 6-4. The Panthers drafted and traded for these guys for a reason, they are tougher to overthrow. Yet, sometimes, Newton manages to do just that.
On top of his accuracy issues, Newton also tends to hold the ball longer than he should. He believes that if he can hold on to the ball for just a few extra seconds his receivers will then be able to break open for the deep pass. Often times those extra holds allow Newton to take a big hit. Still, even with all the hits Cam has taken, he has never gotten back up and blamed the offensive line for the beating he takes. Instead, he gets right back up and gets ready for the next snap.
Not only do Cam’s critics blame him for his pocket passing abilities, but they also like to take jabs at the fact he runs too much. But if you know anything about Newton that’s part of his game. Telling him not to run would be like telling LeBron James not to drive to the basket. It’s one of the things Cam does that makes him great. It’s also what helps Carolina pick up wins, remember last year, when the Panthers were tied with the Minnesota Vikings late in the fourth quarter? Cam faked a handoff and turned on the burners for a 61-yard run putting them on Minnesota’s 6-yard line leading to the game winner.
Obviously, running is a part of the game of football, and the yards count just the same as passing. So of course Cam should keep running the football.
Additionally, this season Cam will have new targets to throw to. Newcomers like D.J. Moore, and Torrey Smith will bring more speed to the Carolina offense. Also, don’t forget about Curtis Samuel, who was injured most of his rookie season last year. Newton is at the perfect age this upcoming season. He turned 29 a couple of months ago which will mark this upcoming season as his eighth year as an NFL pro. Newton is at the primary age where his talent and knowledge meet. Cam’s young enough to still blow by defenses while also being old enough to know better in certain situations.
Ever since Steve Smith Sr. left Carolina, Cam has dealt with a sub-standard receiving corp. This season, that is no longer true. He also finally has an offensive coordinator that will maximize his talents while making him a better overall pocket passer. The only question, especially after a couple of injuries in training camp, is if the offensive line can hold up. If so, then we might have another MVP campaign from the Panther’s quarterback.
To be able to compete in this league everyone knows you need a franchise quarterback. And the Panthers have just that, with his flaws and all. This season, it will be compelling to see what he can do with all the new talent the Panthers required.