When Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner said in May that he thinks quarterback Cam Newton can have a completion percentage in the “mid- to high-60s” this season, many people responded with skepticism thanks to Newton completing 58.5 percent of his passes over the course of his career.
One adjustment that could help push that number higher this season is related to the kinds of chances that the Panthers will ask Newton to take on the field. Quarterbacks coach Scott Turner told Albert Breer of SI.com that they want Newton to know that he doesn’t have to swing for the fences on every play.
“With him, on every play, we want to make sure he has a plan and he’s following that plan,” Turner said. “And to know checking down is OK. A lot of Cam’s issues have come because he’s so talented that he thinks he can make every play work. And sometimes, it’s just not there, so you check down and go to the next play. By holding the ball, sometimes he takes hits or falls into negative plays. Making decisions quick, getting the ball out of his hand, that’s where, when he improves, the consistency will come. We’re not trying to make him anything he’s not. We want him to be the best version of himself.”
Watching how this new approach takes form will be one of the leading storylines in the early part of the Panthers season. Newton has one MVP on his mantle and the Panthers went to the Super Bowl the year he won it, so the best version of him would be a major boost to Carolina’s hopes of success in 2018.