Found November 27, 2012 on Fox Sports Carolinas:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Coach Ron Rivera said despite some growing pains he believes Cam Newton is improving and is "right where you want a second-year quarterback to be." Newton's overall record as an NFL starter is just 9-18 and he hasn't come close this year to matching the numbers he put up as a rookie, leaving Rivera to answer repeated questions about a possible sophomore slump. Still, Rivera said Carolina's 30-22 victory Monday night over Philadelphia only reaffirms his belief Newton is making steady strides. Newton threw for 306 yards and had four touchdowns -- two passing and two rushing -- in the victory. The Panthers expected more of those types of performances this season from Newton, last year's AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. But sometimes it takes time for young quarterbacks to learn and develop, Rivera said. "People are throwing different things at him now," Rivera said. "They're trying to throw things that have worked against him at him, and he's learning those things and understanding them." Rivera said the coaching staff's decision to "take things off his plate" midway through the season has been instrumental in Newton's increased production in recent weeks. The Panthers added several new twists in the playbook during the offseason figuring opposing defenses would be better prepared to stop Newton after getting months to study him on tape. But midway through the season, with Newton struggling to produce, Rivera and his staff decided to scale back the playbook and simplify a few things for him. "I think the thing is we put a lot on his plate earlier in the year," Rivera said. "We've taken some of it back and he has reacted to that very well now, and I think we are starting to find the balance that we need with him. The last few weeks he has been outstanding and he has given us chances to win, and this is the first time that we as a team took advantage of it." In the past few four games Newton has thrown for six touchdown passes and only two interceptions. In the previous seven games he had five TDs and eight picks. He has six rushing TDs this season, three of those in the past four weeks. One of the things the Panthers did to help Newton was reduce the number of zone read option plays -- ones where Newton has to make a split-second decision on whether to run or handoff. Instead the Panthers have gone to more traditional running plays and tried to give more carries to running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. "We are really trying to balance it out and spread it among the other players," Rivera said. "He has really responded very well to those things and it is funny because he did not want us to take anything off, he wanted more, and I think we had to give him an opportunity to take a breath once in a while." Rivera said Newton has responded well. "These last few weeks he has played like the guy that we believe he can become," Rivera said. Another sign of Newton's developing maturation is his ability to change plays at the line of scrimmage, something he did with greater frequency in the win against the Eagles. "I think he's starting to get comfortable with those things and really as he improves and learns those things he's getting better and better at it," Rivera said. Teammates also see Newton getting more comfortable in a leadership role as he nears the end of his second season. Newton was careful not to step on the toes of veteran players last season as a rookie. At times this season teammates have questioned his leadership ability, but veteran offensive tackle Jordan Gross said he sees the former Heisman Trophy winner making steady progress in that area. "The last two weeks I have seen it," Gross said. "He played well last week (in a 27-21 overtime loss to Tampa Bay) and we were not able to win. But he's leading the team. He's on the sidelines talking to the o-line, talking to the receivers, doing everything we all wanted him to do. In the huddle, he's saying the right things. If he can continue to play this way and lead this way, the sky is the limit for him." Newton said his biggest challenge this year has been consistency. It's been a rollercoaster season with a good game followed by a bad one, something he's desperately trying to change. "I know personally, I feel like with the throws it was kind of high, kind of low, kind of everywhere," Newton said after Carolina's win over the Eagles. "I just want to focus on being more consistent." Statistically, the Philadelphia game was Newton's best performance of the season. Just don't try telling him that. "Absolutely not," he said. "I think my best game is still yet to come."
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Rivera defends Newton's soph. season

Coach Ron Rivera says despite some growing pains he believes Cam Newton is improving and is ''right where you want a second-year quarterback to be.'' Newton's overall record as an NFL starter is just 9-18 and he hasn't come close this year to matching the numbers he put up as a rookie. Still, Rivera says Carolina's 30-22 victory Monday night over Philadelphia...

Cam Newton: Michael Vick and I have a rare skill set that is a gift and a curse

Cam Newton has been compared to Michael Vick ever since he burst onto the scene at Auburn and led the Tigers to a national championship. While many will argue that their comparisons are race related, Newton understands that the comparison stems mostly from the fact that both quarterbacks can make plays with their arm and their legs. Newton says that dual-threat ability has its benefits...

Newton powers Panthers past Eagles

This was the Cam Newton who was the talk of the NFL last season. Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 30-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in a matchup of teams with the worst records in the NFC. Newton, who hadn't played up to his sensational rookie season, showed no signs of a sophomore slump against...

Cam Newton's 4 TDs Lead Panthers To Win Over Eagles

After avoiding the rookie wall last season, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton experienced a sophomore landslide this year until finding his...

Newton, Panthers rally to beat Eagles

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Cam Newton returned to his rookie form to outshine a seventh-round draft pick starting his first game since high school. Newton threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the Carolina Panthers to a 30-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night in a matchup of teams with the worst records in the NFC. Bryce Brown set a club rookie record...

Newton accounts for 4 TDs as Panthers top Eagles

PHILADELPHIA -- The Carolina Panthers are asking quarterback Cam Newton to do less, and as a result, he's doing more. He did just about everything Monday night, passing for two touchdowns and running for two more to lead the Panthers over the Philadelphia Eagles 30-22 at Lincoln Financial Field. Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he told his quarterback not to try to carry the...

Rick Reilly says Cam Newton held up team bus again; Panthers firmly deny it

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been the target of a ton of criticism this season. Much of it has been warranted, some of it has not. Whether or not he deserves the latest heat that ESPN’s Rick Reilly put on him is open for debate. On Tuesday, Reilly tweeted that Newton held up the Panthers team bus after their win over the Eagles on Monday night — something he also...

Panthers place Ron Edwards on IR

Coach Ron Rivera says the Panthers have placed starting defensive tackle Ron Edwards on injured reserve with a dislocated left elbow and running back Jonathan Stewart could miss some time with a high ankle sprain. Both players were injured in Carolina's 30-22 win over Philadelphia on Monday night. Edwards, a 12-year NFL veteran, started all 11 games for the Panthers this season...

Monday Night Football: Carolina Panthers at Philadelphia Eagles

Week 12 Nov. 26, 2012 Carolina Panthers Philadelphia Eagles                       (2-8)                                                       (3-7) Time: 8:30 PM EDT Stadium: Lincoln Financial Field (Philadelphia, PA) Broadcast: ESPN Spread: Panthers -2.5 Game Conditions Weather: Partly Cloudy Temperature...

Killing us softly with their song... Carolina 30, Eagles 22...

It was remarkably quiet at the Linc last night...almost serene. Maybe the brisk temperature (36 F.) kept Iggles fans' frustrations in check. Or maybe the folks who did show up for the game ( 70% capacity) were just being respectful. After all, they were witnessing the death of the Andy Reid era in Philly. The only good thing about the eery funeral parlor atmosphere at the...

Panthers 30, Eagles 22

PHILADELPHIA -- The Carolina Panthers struck for two long touchdown passes in the first half, and their defense came up with a crucial fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter of a 30-22 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night at Lincoln Financial Field. The Panthers (3-8) won despite a big day by Eagles rookie running back Bryce Brown, who rushed for 178 yards. However...
NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.