Few have worked as closely with Cam Newton as Warren Moon, and the Hall of Fame quarterback is still defending last year’s pupil, even while acknowledging his need to improve.
Moon thinks placing too much of the blame for the Panthers’ 1-5 start (and the firing of general manager Marty Hurney) at the second-year quarterback’s feet is wrong, and any suggestion he’s a bust is ridiculous.
“I think a lot of this is because so many people want to say ‘I told you so’ about him, but couldn’t because he was so good last year,” Moon told Yahoo’s Mike Silver in a wide-ranging interview. “I think people are overreacting. How can he be a bust? He just had one of the great years a rookie has ever had, and now he can’t play? Come on.”
Moon acknowledged he’d like to see Newton adopt a more even-keeled approach, something he’s done more of in recent weeks. But as he did prior to the draft last year, Moon thinks there’s an undertone of racism to some of the criticism.
“I don’t understand it,” Moon said. “I heard somebody compare him to Vince Young. It’s the same old crap – it’s always a comparison of one black to another black. I get tired of it. I get tired of defending it.
“If you want to compare him to someone because of his demeanor, compare him to Jay Cutler. There are a lot of guys who whine and moan. Cam’s not biting anybody’s head off or pushing his linemen. He’s just disgruntled, and not handling losing well, because, think about it, he basically didn’t lose in college.
“I don’t think Cam’s as bad as Cutler, because Cutler looks like he doesn’t give a damn sometimes, or he’s yelling and cussing at someone. Cam, he just looks down when they’re losing.”
Moon also doesn’t think the Panthers coaches are putting Newton in good positions to succeed by ignoring the run game with the talent they have, and leaning too heavily on the read-option principles he ran in college.
“I don’t know why they got away from what they were doing last year,” Moon said. “They were running more of a pro-style offense, and now they’re going more to the read-option, the stuff he did in college. I think some of it is coaching. I think some of it is they don’t have enough good players yet. And there’s no question he’s not playing as well as last year.
“That offense doesn’t allow you to be an NFL-type quarterback. It’s a lot of tricks, sticking the ball into a running back’s stomach, trying to freeze the defense. Even though he can do that and had success with it in college, I don’t think it serves him well in the long run. You can’t keep going back and forth. I think he’s a little bit confused with the footwork, and I think that’s one of the problems with his accuracy – his feet are crossed up. Why this change? I think it’s backfiring. I think they’re out-thinking themselves.”