Why isn’t Cam Newton in the playoffs?

Updated: January 10, 2013

NORTH CAROLINA -(BASN) In the NFL playoffs this year, the presence of  rookie quarterbacks under center has really been quite amazing, especially in a league which is usually dominated by veteran signal callers.

But this year, there is no Ben Roethlisberger.

No Eli.

No Cutler.

No Drew Brees.

And no Tony Romo, which really isn’t surprising.

Sorry, Cowboy fans. (Read my article Press Rewind: Another Romo Rerun on BASN to learn why)

Shockingly, however, in Washington, there is the electrifying RG3, who perfected the Shanahan’s pistol package in DC.

In Seattle, there is the confident Russell Wilson, who won the starting position over former Green Bay Packers backup QB Matt Flynn.

And in the Indianapolis, there is the talented Andrew Luck, who transformed a Peyton-less 2-14 Colts team into a 10-6 record playoff contender.

Along with these gifted rookie QBs, there are  sophomore sensations Andy Dalton aka the Red Rifle in Cincinnati, Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, who replaced Alex Smith after nine games and Minnesota Vikings’ Christian Ponder.

But, with all of these young gun-slingers being highlighted during the 2012-2013 NFL Playoffs, however, there is one quarterback missing.

Where is he at?

He is more durable than RG3.

His arm is stronger than Andrew Luck’s.

He’s more athletic than Andy Dalton.

He is 10x better than Christian Ponder.

And, he has better quarterback mechanics than Colin Kaepernick.

But for some odd reason, he is not participating in this year’s NFL Playoffs, despite being named Rookie of the Year in 2011.

I am, of course, talking about the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, who threw for 4,051 yards and rushed for 706 yards on the ground in 2011 while scoring 35 touchdowns.

Despite his impressive rookie season, many NFL analysts believe coaching is the main reason  Newton is not in the playoffs this year.

Case in point, all the rookie and sophomore quarterbacks currently in the playoffs are headed by veteran coaches like Mike Shanahan (WAS), Pete Carroll (SEA), Jim Harbaugh (SF), and Marvin Lewis (CIN).

Regardless of  what one thinks, this does make a difference in winning and losing in the NFL.

Signs of a sophomore slump

We, however, are not placing all the blame on Coach Rivera, who is 13- 19 in two seasons in Carolina.

Because, Cam also shares some of the responsible for the Panthers disappointing season, which started out with Super Bowl predictions by center Ryan Kalil , especially with all the annoying sideline pouting, bad body language during interviews and lack of leadership in the huddle and on the field, which resulted in the Panthers posting a 2-7 record after week 9.

But what seemed like a sophomore slump for Newton, ended up being better than his rookie season, in which the Panthers only won six games.

Newton’s play, in fact, got better after an embarrassing 22-point loss to the Denver Broncos which occurred in front of the hometown crowd, who saw him get sacked seven times at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

Re-birth of Newton

During the next six games, however, Newton would throw 176 consecutive passes without an interception, which was the longest in franchise history as well as in the NFL at that time.

With Newton decreasing his turnovers, reading defensive better, and providing leadership in the huddle, the Panthers finished in second place in the NFC South with a (7-9) record and a four game winning streak, which included impressive victories against the Falcons, Chargers, Raiders and the Saints.

He’s just done a lot better with things that maybe people on the outside can’t see,” veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross told the Charlotte Observer.

Calling the play right, doing the cadence right, managing the huddle, managing the personnel groups. I think he’s done a really good job this year getting better at getting away from pressure and making a play, throwing his check-downs or running with the ball when it’s a designed pass play.

“His leadership skills have gotten a lot better. I’ve been really happy with him in the last six or seven games.”

Cam’s gains confidence

With the Panthers winning five of their last six games, coach Rivera’s job was saved and Newton’s confidence boosted.

And despite his slow start, Cam finished 2012 with numbers almost identical to the one’s produced in his record-breaking rookie season.

For instance, stat wise, he threw for 3,869 yards, 21 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and had an 86.2 passer rating, while running for 741 yards on the ground, which made him the first quarterback since Donovan McNabb did it in 2000, to lead his team in rushing.

With stats like those, look forward to seeing Cam and the Panthers in the playoffs next season.

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