I’ll admit that I wasn’t in Newton’s camp when it came to cheering for how well he would do once he entered the NFL. I doubted him, and in many ways, I still do. However, I can’t argue with how well he has moved the offense through the 2011 season, thus far.
Newton took over the job in the pre-season, beating out second year man Jimmy Clausen. Clausen fared about as bad as possible as a rookie in 2010, though you can’t truly say that Clausen was set up to succeed, especially with a ‘lame duck’ head coach. Everyone knew that HC John Fox would not return, and he did not. It’s hard to win in those situations. Regardless, Newton’s sloppy play in the pre-season coupled with his intensive leadership earned him the starting job for the 2011 season and he may never look back.
While it’s still ridiculously early to say that Newton will make the Hall of Fame before his career sets with the sun (looking at you Jim Brown), the early signs indicate that Newton can continue to ignite a Carolina Panthers team that was never as bad as anyone thought and may actually surprise late in the season with a playoff push.
The most impressive aspect of Newton isn’t his rocket arm, or his ability to plow through defenders, no, it’s Newton’s ability to lead the troops. Not every man can inspire another to play beyond their level of ability, or inspire a blogger to point out the positives (we tend to be negative when reporting outside the teams we cover), but Newton does that. I’ve watched a lot of his play thus far, and I gotta say this: Newton makes me believe in him. I didn’t know I would say that. I’ve been moved from the label of ‘doubter’ to ‘believer’ and that’s a powerful transition. A transition that now has me labeling Newton the “New Gold Standard” for rookie quarterbacks entering the league. This type of beginning may never happen again.
Once again, let me repeat this line of thought: Newton’s numbers don’t impress me, his leadership, poise, and ability to carry a team seamlessly convince me.
After 3 starts (1-2):
4 touchdowns passing, 2 rushing
sacked 8 times, 25 rushes for 98 yards
and the rookie record for passing in 3 games…1,012 yards passing
Newton remains the only rookie to throw for 400 yards, and he did that consecutively.
passer rating of 85.1