The Panthers have won their last 11 regular season games, a streak that started when the team was 3-8-1 last year and coincided with a decision to run more no-huddle on offense.
Going that route put more responsibility on quarterback Cam Newton to identify defensive looks and make offensive play calls that would work well against them. That part of the game hasn’t usually been the first thing that comes to mind when watching Newton make the athletic plays that have filled his highlight reel over the years, but the Panthers credit his ability to handle that job with making their offense go.
“The evolution of our offense, has been as much the evolution of Cam,” Rivera said, via Jenny Vrentas of TheMMQB.com.
Rivera estimated that Newton is charged with making a call about what play to run about 70 percent of the time, which he calls not much different than what you have seen with Peyton Manning in terms of being out of the shotgun, having to look at defenses and make determinations.”
That’s a lofty comparison, obviously, and Newton’s passing isn’t at the same level of Manning’s golden days even when you take supporting casts into account. Much like Manning’s teams over the years, though, the Panthers are only going to go as far as Newton can take them.
There’s a lot left to learn about that destination with half of the regular season still to play, which makes Newton’s continued evolution one of the league’s more interesting storylines for the next few months.