The Carolina Panthers offense continues to put up points at a record pace, leading the league in points per game, and it is due in large part to their quarterback Cam Newton. The former first overall pick is having a career year and has cemented his place near the top of the MVP race after his performance against the NY Giants.
Earlier this year there was some question about the validity of Newton's case for MVP because even though the Panthers' were undefeated, the quarterback didn't necessarily have the stats to back up his case. Through the first seven games, Newton had only 11 passing touchdowns, eight interceptions and averaging only 217 passing yards per game. He ranked last in passing yards among quarterbacks who played at least 75 percent of their team's snaps to that point of the season.
These were not numbers of an MVP candidate.
The past seven games though have been an entirely different story as Newton has thrown 22 touchdown passes, only two interceptions and is averaging 268 passing yards per game. He currently ranks first in passing touchdowns, second in QB rating at 115.3, and has the second fewest interceptions among quarterbacks who played at least 75 percent of the team's snaps.
The part that stands out most about Newton is the fact that his scrambling ability and rushing yards are no longer the most impressive part of his game. That part is still there obviously as he is coming off a 100-yard rushing effort against the NY Giants and he is currently tied for sixth in the NFL with seven rushing touchdowns. However, the way he is able to beat teams through the air now is whathas brought him to that next level.
He looks much more comfortable in this offense and working through his progressions on passing plays. He has thrown touchdown passes to eight different players this year and the team currently has four players with at least four touchdown receptions (Ted Ginn Jr., Greg Olsen, Devin Funchess and Philly Brown). The way he is able to move the ball around makes this offense much more dynamic because defenses can't key in one or two receivers.
It certainly may be surprising to say but the loss of Kelvin Benjamin may have actually made Newton a better quarterback. It is forcing him to move the ball around and work through his progressions by not having a physical talent like Benjamin on the outside. Now that he has developed this part of his game, it should help him utilize Benjamin even more when he returns next year.
The stats may not have been there seven weeks ago but they certainly are now and coupled with the fact the Panthers have the most wins in the league, should make Cam Newton the front-runner for the MVP award with two regular season games left.