Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 9/28/12

The Panthers’ 36-7 loss to the Giants was one of the most embarrassing in franchise history. Still, it’s only one loss – regardless of how much they were outplayed. I have faith that the inferior game planning, poor tackling or shoddy blocking can be fixed.

But the real question is, can they repair Cam Newton’s attitude?

My fellow Panthers 101 writer DJ Slotkis published an article yesterday contending that Cam’s sideline demeanor was nothing to worry about.

I’m not so sure.

I can’t get the image out of my mind – the sulking Panthers’ star quarterback with a towel draped over his head, avoiding his coaches and teammates and having what appeared to be a complete emotional breakdown in the middle of a primetime game.

Newton’s behavior was juvenile that Steve Smith, a veteran wideout who has dealt with his share of adversity, berated him on the sidelines.

The criticism of Newton was never about his physical tools; it was all between the ears. Last year, we saw why at times with some of his behavior and comments. However, Newton acknowledged that he was a “bad teammate” this offseason and it appeared that he may have made the necessary mental adjustments to overcome some of those issues.

But after last Thursday’s debacle, the jury is still out on whether Newton possesses the maturity and mental toughness to take the next step as an NFL quarterback.

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera chalks up Newton’s much-maligned in-game behavior as simply part of a young player’s growth process.

“He’s going to have those moments. Not having success in the Giants game was hard on him,” Rivera said.

"Young guys, if they don't have success in certain situations, it'll get to them," he added. "I think he got caught on his heels a little bit.”

While what Rivera saying may well be true, it still doesn’t answer the most important questions about Newton: Is he the leader that all Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks need to be? Can he rally his teammates and make those players around him better? Can he lead his team to a win in the final seconds of a game? And most importantly, can he handle the adversity and immense pressure that come with being an NFL signal caller?

These are legitimate questions.

This Sunday against the Falcons, we may just get the answers.

Be sure to check out other great articles at Sports Media 101.

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