Last October, Panthers coach Ron Rivera said after a loss to the Seahawks that he though quarterback Cam Newton was trying to do too much on the field.
Less than a year later, wide receiver Steve Smith is seeing the same thing from the quarterback in Carolina’s back-to-back losses to open the season. During an interview on WFNZ, via the Charlotte Observer, Smith said that he thinks the quarterback is forcing things a bit too much.
“What the current issue is, you have a young player pressing,” Smith said. “And what do I mean by pressing? You know when a young player, a receiver, if he doesn’t get a lot of passes, all of sudden instead of going down he fights for that extra yard, fumble. That’s what you’re seeing with Cam a little bit, … Young players do it. And he has to understand that. And that’s just part of being young. It’s not just a quarterback issue, it’s tight end, wide receiver, running back. It’s when you press and you have that competitiveness in you. You’re like, ‘Man, I can change things if I just throw it here, if I just do that.’ And that’s the only bad part about a young player is when they press. That’s what’s going on is that pressing.”
If Newton’s pressing, it hasn’t manifested itself in the turnovers you’d expect to see from a quarterback trying to force the ball into tight quarters. Newton is 37-of-61 for 354 yards with three touchdowns and one interception over the first two games of the season. Sunday’s loss to Buffalo saw him move the team more than once, but the pass rush overwhelmed the Panthers line too often and the offense was again mostly limited to shorter stuff as the Panthers failed to score a touchdown on two red zone trips that may have put the game out of reach.
That’s going to have to change for the Panthers to turn things around after the rough start, but the fact that we’re hearing the same things as last year makes it less than a sure thing that a transformation is in the offing.