Cam Newton took some time to step away from football last weekend, but came back from his bye with a new focus, after a long talk with his father about handling his responsibilities the right way.
The Panthers quarterback’s stats aren’t that far off his rookie pace (at least they weren’t prior to being mugged by the Seahawks), and the 1-4 record he carried into the bye is identical to last year’s at the same point. But he admitted he’s struggling to handle the pressure that comes with losing, after being part of three championship teams in college, and never having a losing record until he was drafted.
“One thing he said was it’s easy for a leader to stand out when you’re 4-1,” Newton said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “But it takes a courageous leader to stand up and still lead the troops to victory when you’re 1-4.
“Looking back at my career, it’s easy for a person just to say, ‘Yeah you won.’ But I think I got kind of veered off of what it took for me to get to that level. Just the small things, preparing for each and every game, valuing each and every possession.
“And at the end of the day, playmakers are going to have to make plays. When that play allows for something to happen, it’s not a time for somebody to clutch up and go in a shell. It’s time for the flower to grow.”
Newton needs as much help with footwork as metaphors, and needs to get there quickly. Of course, he’d benefit from a consistent offensive approach — which he hasn’t had this season — but insists the Panthers aren’t out of it despite their ugly start.
“I think it’s a big challenge for everybody to see what we can do because everything is still possible,” Newton said. “The season is far [from] a wash. It’s time for us to prove it. There’s a lot of expectations going into this season. And for us to get the vibe going and pick up the vibe for this whole season, it’s just going to have to start this game.”
The Panthers host the Cowboys this weekend in a battle of struggling teams, one which might be decided by which quarterback better handles the burden of expectations, since neither Newton nor Tony Romo has this year.