Did anyone really think that Cam Newton would have this much success before the season began? Allow me to admit that before the season started, I was the biggest Newton hater and had no doubt in my mind that he would be a waste of a top overall pick and wouldn't flourish in this league.
Well, for those of you who have followed Newton in his first two games, to say I was wrong would be a massive understatement. Although the Panthers find themselves winless this season, Newton has put up godly numbers and has put the Panthers in a position to pull off upsets in both games.
In his first two weeks alone, Newton set a new NFL record by combining to throw for 854 yards, including a rookie-record 432 last weekend against the defending champion Green Bay Packers. Green Bay's got arguably the most stacked defense in the NFL, so it's not like Newton broke the record against the Cleveland Browns or Jacksonville Jaguars.
As mentioned above, the Panthers are 0-2 to start off the season, but they have been in both games and have been within striking distance late in the fourth quarter. The Panthers are a young team, and in the near future, they will be able to pull out these close games because of Newton. The rookie gunslinger has carried the team on his back, and they have looked pretty good in the first two weeks.
However, as impressive as Newton has been, there are still some rookie mistakes he has made early on in the season that have really come back to bite Carolina right in the hiney. Newton has tried to do too much at times with the offense and has found himself trying to force the ball into tight spots rather than throw the ball away or check down to a different receiver.
Newton has three touchdowns through the air this year, but he also has four interceptions, including three of them that came this past week at home against the Packers. Two of those interceptions came in the third quarter from Green Bay's Charles Woodson, and it led to two Mason Crosby field goals for the visiting team. Regardless, those mistakes are going to happen. What's more important is that Newton learns from this as he develops more experience and becomes a more mature leader of the offense.
Perhaps what's impressed me most about Newton is how he is handling himself off the field, as well. Before the season started, Newton hadn't lost a game since his junior college days at Blinn. Newton, of course, went a perfect 14-0 in 2010-11 with the Auburn Tigers, leading them to the national championship.
Now Newton finds himself in a much different scenario, where he has had to answer to the media following a loss, something he surely isn't used to. However, when you see Newton in his press conferences, he's the first person to take the blame for the team's loss and points out things he should have done better or differently.
Newton has embraced his position as the face of the Panther's franchise and is handling himself with plenty of professionalism and maturity. After all the scandals and allegations at Auburn, plenty of fans thought Newton wouldn't be able to handle the spotlight in the NFL, myself included.
I was the biggest of doubters for this young kid, but he proved me wrong and is on his way not only to an impressive rookie season, but a long and successful career, as well.