Originally written on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/5/12

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith may have had a point when he slighted Cam Newton by saying that big numbers don’t necessarily equate to winning football games. In fact, Newton passed for 4,000-plus yards last season and the Panthers won just six games. The Panthers lost all three games in which Newton passed for more than 300 yards. Yes, you can point the ?nger at a Carolina defense that surrendered more than 25 points per game last season. Despite being attached to defenses that surrendered more points per game last season than the Panthers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers led their respective teams to the playoffs.  

If games lasted two quarters instead of four, the Panthers would have fnished 14-2 and Newton would have been in the MVP discussion. Unfortunately, Newton played more like a rookie as games progressed. He had a quarterback rating of 101.2 in his first ten throws compared to a 74.4 rating on his 21st through 30th throws. Statistics showed that Newton was twice as likely to throw a touchdown pass in his first twenty pass attempts than in the rest of the game. He was also nearly twice as likely to throw an interception in his second twenty pass attempts than in his first twenty. Last season, in games where Newton was asked to throw the ball more than 30 times, the Panthers were 1-10. Statistics also show that Newton struggled when the game was close in the second half. He had a passer rating of 95.6 in the first half, but in the fourth quarter, when the Panthers were seven points or less behind, his passer rating was 68.6. This suggests physical and mental fatigue late in games which may lead to inability to adapt to adjustments by the defense.

“When you do your best to succeed on a particular play and it doesn’t happen- it affects me a lot and you see someone else mess up and they say—“I’ll get it the next play,” Newton said in an interview with ESPN The Magazine.

Are you serious?! You keep saying, “I’ll get it next time, and before you know it, it will be the end of the game.”

This attitude led to some of Newton’s second half woes in 2012. He would make a mistake, get frustrated and it would show in his sideline demeanor. He would sit on the bench by himself sulking with a towel over his head. This attitude wasn’t going to breed a lot of success in the NFL.  “He was angry because he wanted to make every play,” said Steve Smith. The good news for the Carolina Panthers is that Cam Newton is working very hard on an attitude adjustment going into 2012.

“I was very immature,” Newton said about his attitude last season. “I have to have the same mentality but in a different way. It’s an overall maturity level that has to kick in. It’s saying OK that was two plays ago that you threw that interception, now you have to let that go and get past that. I can’t be moping and crying about making a bonehead play when it was 3 series ago. That’s the thing that I did that has to change this season.”

Elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Drew Brees are consistently ef?cient because they are able to forget the previous play and move on to the next one. This allows for an even performance throughout the game. If Cam Newton can embrace this newfound veteran attitude, then Panthers fans can expect Newton to play like an elite quarterback this season.

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

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