Through two years in the NFL, Cam Newton hasn’t left much doubt about having the necessary physical abilities to be a starting quarterback.
There have been some questions about less tangible qualities like leadership after watching Newton mope on the sideline and get criticized by wide receiver Steve Smith and his own father for the way he carries himself. That’s why one of the areas of focus this offseason for Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula is to get Newton to keep things on a more even keel emotionally when things might not be going as well as hoped.
“Probably the biggest thing for him is maintaining that balance,” Shula said, via the Associated Press. “Because everything around you during the football season is going to be up and down. The more you can continue to stay on an even plane and lead the group of guys around you, the more effective you are going to be as a quarterback.”
Newton has admitted to the need to be a more stable presence so Shula won’t be trying to push a boulder up a hill on this front.
By promoting Shula to offensive coordinator and hiring Newton’s pre-draft tutor Ken Dorsey as quarterbacks coach, the Panthers have done a lot to ensure continuity after the departure of Rob Chudzinski to become head coach in Cleveland. That continuity should create a comfortable environment for Newton, which would seem to be a prerequisite for the kind of emotional growth that the team wants to see from their quarterback in the third year of his career.
If it doesn’t happen, there’s a good chance that the Panthers will skid to another losing record and there probably won’t be much continuity come 2014 on the coaching staff.