Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/23/12
Let’s face it -- NFL quarterbacks take the hit when the team loses but they also get the glory for the wins no matter how close the margin. For the Carolina Panthers the emergence of Cam Newton last season was in a sense, a breath of fresh air.With the up and down play of Jake Delhomme for many seasons to see a young, physical, athletic talent like Newton had the organization and the fans dreaming of returning to the Super Bowl, but that bubble can quickly burst when it comes to the reality of the NFL.  As we look at the Panthers this season they really aren’t much different from last season, the fact is in 2011 through seven games they were 2-5 this season they are 1-5 so why is there panic? What organizations and fans look for is upside, progress, and they are looking for teams to “be better” than last season and when that doesn’t happen, well heads start to roll but very rarely is it players. Just this week the Panthers fired GM Marty Hurney in hopes of turning things around but let’s be honest the problem is on the field. Honestly, should moves have been made during the offseason?The answer is yes, in three ways:1. You have to surround Newton with more weapons, with Shockey out you must have a solid No. 2 wide receiver beside Steve Smith. With a lack of the running game and an invisible passing attack = 1-5 start.2. If you are going to shore up the defense, go after solid veterans that know your system and your goals. The old saying “defense wins championships” and in their division it is key.3. To develop a winner you must find coaches and players that know how to win. Winning is contagious and when it happens confidence and purpose follow, none of which the Panthers seem to have right now.It is true that Newton was fresh out of college off a national championship but there is nothing like bringing in key veterans that know how to win in the NFL. During the offseason the Panthers were limited in their moves. How can you improve in the offseason if you aren’t focused on progressing from last season? Fact is the Panthers “thought” that they were much better than last season’s record but the reality is that injuries diminish players and it takes a toll on them, plays that worked last season on defenses will not this season, and rookie quarterbacks can find themselves struggling, here is the proof:Cam Newton through the first seven games of the season in 2011:-Threw for 300+ in three of the first seven games.-In the first seven games threw for eight touchdowns and ran for seven scores.-Threw nine interceptions while losing two fumbles.-Through the first seven games threw for 2,103 yards while rushing for 266 yards. Cam Newton through the first seven games of the season in 2012:(Granted the Panthers did have a bye in Week 6).-Has thrown over 300+ only one game.-In the first seven weeks of the season has thrown five touchdowns and ran for three scores.-Has thrown six interceptions while losing six fumbles.-Through the first seven weeks has thrown for 1,387 yards while rushing for 103 yards.What a difference a season makes, so my question is will the real Cam Newton please stand up? The fact is we have all heard of the sophomore slump well Newton is right in the middle, he is still the same physical, athletic talent but defenses now are prepared for him. The great ones do struggle but they find a way to bounce back and get the ship right, but is Newton a great one? Can he get the ship right and get the Panthers back on track? Only time will tell, but when you have one of your offensive linemen stating that the team will be in the Super Bowl this season in a newspaper for all to see you might want to turning things around, NOW! To use Dennis Green’s famous line “They are who we thought they were” this explains the Panthers to a tee and in order to see different results you must do things differently.If the Panthers are planning to reach the Super Bowl, Cam Newton has to find a way to get on track to find that renewed passion from last season and the Panthers as a team need to get hot and start to win games or you can expect a team face lift during this upcoming offseason. 
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