Offseason To-Do List: Cam Newton

It was an up and down season for the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton. He dealt with a number of injuries while the team stumbled through a six-game losing streak. It wasn’t all bad as Newton earned his first playoff victory when they beat the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card game. If Cam Newton hopes to have an excellent 2015 season, these are three things he should work on this offseason.

In 2015, Cam Newton will be entering the final year of his rookie contract and is set to become a free agent if the franchise can’t work out a new deal. The debate with Newton though is whether or not he is a franchise quarterback. Panthers’ general manager Dave Gettleman believes he is when he said “We believe in Cam and we think it’s our future.”

For every article supporting the idea of re-signing Cam Newton there is one questioning this very idea. If Newton hopes to quiet a majority of the critics and earn a large paycheck after this season, he will need to work out on a few things. There is no better time than the offseason to work on his craft and improve his game. If Cam Newton focused on these three things the next few months, it would put him position to have an excellent 2015 season.


Get Healthy

Prior to 2014, Cam Newton did not miss a single game in his first three years in the NFL. He proved to be very durable but was unlucky when it came to his health this past year. The injuries started even before the season started when he had offseason ankle injury. The recovery from this surgery carried over into training camp and the preseason. He was able to get back on the field for the third preseason game however suffered a rib injury against the New England Patriots.

The rib injury forced Newton to miss the final preseason game and the first game of the regular season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers quarterback returned in Week 2 and was able to play the next 12 games.

That all changed in December when Newton was involved in a serious car accident. He ended up suffering two fractures in his back and missed the Week 15 matchup against Tampa Bay. He was able to return for the final two weeks of the year, as well as the two playoff games.

It seemed apparent that even though Newton was able to play a majority of the season, he was not completely healthy. He was taking countless hits each week playing behind a porous offensive line but hung in there.

The best thing that Cam Newton can do this offseason is rest and get completely healthy. According to Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera, this is exactly what he is doing. During his press conference last week at the NFL Scouting Combine, Rivera said that he had recently talked to Newton and he felt he was the healthiest he has been in a long time.

A healthy Cam Newton, who can participate in all the offseason workouts and training camp will make Newton better as well as help the offense get back on the same page.


Improve Accuracy

On the field one of the biggest things Cam Newton will need to work on ahead of this upcoming season is his accuracy. Over the past four seasons, Newton has had a career completion percentage of 59.5% and last year’s percentage of 58.5 ranked 29th among 33 qualified quarterbacks.

This stat doesn’t tell the whole story though as this will include all passes including balls intentionally thrown away and spikes as well passes that are dropped by wide receivers. Pro Football Focus tries to account for this with their Quarterback Accuracy Percentage using the formula: ((Completions + Drops) / (Attempts - Throw Aways - Spikes - Batted Passes - Hit As Thrown))

Unfortunately for Newton, the percentage doesn’t get better. These are his Quarterback Accuracy Percentage each of his four years in the NFL and where he ranks among qualified quarterbacks.


QB Accuracy Percentage

Rank Among Quarterbacks















The numbers seemed to be trending upward each year but took a drop in 2014. This could be attributed to the injuries Newton suffered through the season or the lack of practice early in the year in training camp and offseason workouts.


Work on Decision Making

The other thing that Cam Newton will need to work on is his decision making and understanding when to give up on a play. The creativity Newton shows on the field is one of his strengths and his ability to create yards when it seems nothing is there. This attitude has gotten him in trouble and sometimes put the Panthers in bad situations.

Last year when Cam Newton didn’t throw an interception the Panthers had a record of 3-2. However when he threw one or more interceptions, the team had a record of 2-6-1. A majority of the time those interceptions were a cause of Newton throwing an ill-advised pass.

One of Newton’s not-so-finer moments came in Week 8 against the Seattle Seahawks. The play broke down almost immediately thanks to a strong Seahawks pass rush. Thanks to Newton’s scrambling ability he was able to avoid the pass rush and role to his left.

At this point though, Newton should thinking about getting rid of the football and throwing it out of bounds with defenders chasing him down and no one open.

However, Newton sees a crossing Greg Olsen and tries to flick the ball out to him without being able to set his feet. This allows the ball to float in the air and gives the Seahawks’ Marcus Burley an opportunity to intercept the pass.

If Newton hopes to become the franchise quarterback that he can be he will need to learn when to give up on a play and move on to the next one. It isn’t always bad to throw the ball out of bounds and move on to the next play.

If Cam Newton is able to improve in these three areas ahead of this upcoming season, not only will he make his case stronger of being a franchise quarterback, he would make the Carolina Panthers a much stronger team. A team that would be in excellent position to win their third consecutive NFC South crown.

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