The long-time Carolina Panther quarterback and former 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton, is currently dealing with unemployment as he has yet to sign with an NFL team for the 2020 season. If Cam is going to continue to play, he needs to fall into a backup role with a championship-caliber team, otherwise, he will never play quarterback in the NFL ever again.
Broken Bones and Broken Glass
In his 9-year career, Cam Newton had received injuries in four seasons, with his most recent coming in 2019 after playing in only his second game when he reaggravated a foot injury he suffered in the preseason. 31-years old in 2020, Newton’s career clock is ticking down rapidly. His dominant years as the quarterback for the Carolina Panthers were the result of his aggressive scrambling abilities. Cam possessed an unnatural ability of exceptional speed for someone who stands at 6’5″ 245 lbs. His willingness to take tackles head-on and to run through linebackers made him an unstoppable force upon entering the league. The scrambling play-style however, does not promote longevity, as the typical NFL player only maintains their track-like speed for 3-4 years before the vigorous hits begin to take a toll on their bodies. Cam Newton especially, has received his fair share of blows from linebackers looking to stop the 6x 500-yard rusher. The most common injury he has faced is concussions, receiving several in the regular season and playoffs. As he continues to age, his body becomes more and more fragile, leaving him susceptible to more severe injuries via open-field hits in the event he decides to run the ball. Not only has he dealt with injuries to his legs and head, but he suffered two severe season-ending injuries in his upper extremities with a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder (December 11, 2016) and another one to his shoulder recorded as an undisclosed injury (October 21, 2018) per sports injury projector. If he does not adopt a playing style that shows he can play exclusively in the pocket and throw accurately on a consistent basis, then there is no room in the future for the sensational athlete in the NFL.
Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
As the saying implies, Cam Newton adopting a new quarterback style in the latter half of 30 will be exponentially difficult, if at all possible. If he does not show that he can be a reliable quarterback in the pocket in 2020, then he never will. What I often say separates a mobile quarterback from a scrambler is that a mobile QB is a passer who can run, as opposed to a scrambler who is a runner who can throw. Scramblers don’t last long in the NFL because they rely on their feet to move the chains, not their arm, and when they no longer have the game-changing speed anymore, they are unable to be effective as a starter due to their unimpressive throwing capabilities inside the pocket. While Cam Newton does have a strong arm with decent accuracy given a career completion percentage of 59.6%, he does not have the natural ability to be a reliable quarterback without using his legs. The only way for him to continue to play in the NFL is if by some miracle he can mold into a completely different quarterback. At the end of the day, it does not matter what you did 9-years ago, 5-years ago, or even last year. What matters is what you can do now, and what Cam can’t do is be a pocket passer effectively in the NFL.
Same Story Different Characters
Throughout the history of the NFL, there have been some truly sensational quarterbacks to have played the game. Cam Newton is one of those guys, as he entered the league as a quarterback who wasn’t afraid to take a hit or two. Ultimately though, that same “wow” factor is what led to his downfall as a starter in the league. The difference between Cam Newton and a quarterback like Russel Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks is that Cam relies on his legs to be a good quarterback, while Wilson uses his legs to make him an even better quarterback. Wilson had the arm talent before his running abilities and uses his feet only as a last resort. In contrast, Newton throws as a last resort if he doesn’t see an opening to run. Looking at where the two players stand now in their careers, the difference between a mobile and a scrambler quarterback is obvious. Cam Newton had as great of an NFL career as you could ever dream of. His career totals feature passing statistics of 29,041 yards, 182 TDs, 108 INTs, and a 59.6 CMP% while rushing for 4,806 yards and 58 TDs on the ground. In terms of accolades, he was the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY), 2015 Offensive Player of the Year (OPOY), while he was also selected 2015 First-Team All-Pro and was a 3x Pro-Bowl selection in 2011, 2013, and 2015. Cam Newton led an incredible career, and it is a cause for relaxation celebration, as his days of being a starting quarterback in the NFL are over.