Panthers quarterback Cam Newton exceeded expectations as a rookie in every way, but his coach believes there’s still plenty of room for Newton to improve — especially as a team leader.
Rivera said on NFL Network’s Inside Training Camp Live that he worries sometimes that Newton is so competitive that he loses his focus, and that Newton can become a better player by calming down at times.
“The one thing that we did talk about really was controlling his emotions,” Rivera said. “He wants to win so bad . . . last year was hard. It was very hard on him, and the thing that he’s done is he’s grown a little bit, he’s matured. He understands that there is a process and we’re going through that process. We were 2-14 two seasons ago, 6-10 last season, so now hopefully as we continue to progress and get better as a football team, who knows where we can be? We believe we can be better than 6-10 and we can make the playoffs.”
Newton is only 23 years old and is just wrapping up his first full NFL offseason, and Rivera said he sees plenty of ways that Newton can keep getting better.
“As we’ve looked at it, the big thing that we really truly believe is he has to improve his entire football game,” Rivera said. “Not just the little things that people always say, ‘His mechanics aren’t good, his decision-making process isn’t good.’ We believe he can improve in every facet of his game from his footwork, to his mechanics, to his decision-making process, to the way he runs things in the huddle. As he improves and gets better as a football player, we improve and get better as a football team.”
After a rookie season in which he topped 4,000 passing yards and ran for 14 touchdowns, Newton getting better in every phase of the game is a scary thought for the rest of the NFC South.