The Panthers got more from quarterback Cam Newton Monday night, by asking him to do less.
That it took until Nov. 26 to figure it out is part of the reason they’re 3-8, and changes are on the way this offseason despite last night’s 30-22 win over the Eagles.
Newton’s going to be part of the future, and he showed why Monday — throwing for 306 yards (the first time he’s topped 300 in a win), accounting for all four Panthers touchdowns (two passing, two running).
Panthers coach Ron Rivera said his staff has pulled some things back, streamlining things for his second-year quarterback.
“The thing is we put a lot on his plate early in the year and we’ve taken some of it back. He’s reacted to that very well,” Rivera said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “We’re starting to find the balance that we need with him; the last few weeks he’s been outstanding. He’s given us chances to win, and this is the first time we as a team took advantage of it.”
While there’s a (justified) sense of impending doom for Rivera and a staff that’s 1-11 in games decided by a touchdown or less, Newton’s going to be part of the future in Carolina. That’s why watching his reaction to adversity is far more important than watching his reaction to tweaks in a game plan implemented by people he won’t be working for much longer.
Monday was a step.
“He’s leading the team. He’s on the sidelines talking with the O-line, talking with receivers. He’s doing the things we all wanted him to do. In the huddle, he’s saying the right things,” veteran left tackle Jordan Gross said. “And I’ll tell you what, the guy’s a tough guy because he takes some shots and he gets up and keeps on swinging.
“If he can play this way and lead like he is, the sky’s the limit for him.”
That’s part of the reason the Panthers had high expectations this season, and offers a degree of hope for the future.