After the Carolina Panthers first OTA, head coach Ron Rivera said that he was challenging Cam Newton to be better. According to Bryan Strickland of Panthers.com, Rivera said, “He’s such a dynamic football player athletically and mentally that every time he gets out here, he can improve. He can become better.”
It is hard to imagine that the starting quarterback of the highest scoring offense from last season and the current MVP could get better. However, there are three things that stand out that if he is able to improve, he can have a better season than last year.
Throws Inside 20 yards
Newton improved tremendously as a passer, however he still struggled a bit with his accuracy. He finished the season with a completion percentage of 59.8%, which ranks 28th among players who attempted on average at least 14 passes per team's game played.
If Newton is able to improve his accuracy, his throws inside of 20 yards would benefit tremendously. Last season, he completed just over 60% of his passes throwing in this part of the field but threw a majority of his interceptions in this area as well.
Last year, inside of 20 yards the Panthers quarterback had a TD/INT ratio of 2.25 but throws over 20 yards he had a ratio of 4.5 with nine touchdowns to only two interceptions.
If Newton is able to work on his mechanics a little more this offseason, it should help his accuracy and make him that much more dangerous throwing the ball.
Protect the Ball On His Side of the Field
While accuracy is more mechanics and the physical part of football, he needs to improve with situational football as well.
Last season, Newton threw eight of his 10 interceptions on his side of the field. While it is never good to have turnovers, when they turn the ball over on this side of the field, it gives the opposition a short field. This makes it easy to get into scoring position, if they aren't already.
The Panthers' quarterback did an excellent job improving in this category overall, finishing with a career low 10 interceptions. He also only threw one interception over his final eight regular season games. He also only had two games all season with more than one interception.
Cam Newton had an exceptional season last year, one that culminated with a league MVP. This season he gets almost his entire offense back plus the return of former first round pick Kelvin Benjamin. If he is able to improve on the two areas above, the Panthers' quarterback could be in line for another career year leading this offense.