17 total games into an NFL career, 1 game into a sophomore season, and 16 total games in the rear view that mean absolutely nothing on this Monday afternoon in Charlotte, NC.
The phrase “Sophomore sSump” looms above the Bank of America Stadium today, after the Carolina Panthers suffered a 16-10 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Could it be true? Is the franchise player, former Rookie of the Year, Mr. Superman, THE Cam Newton actually going to fall victim to this phenomena?
An offense that normally flourishes, managed just one touchdown and 10 rushing yards in its first contest of the season. Newton passed for 303 yards, completing 23 of 33 passes, but there were two throws I’m sure Panther nation wanted back. Both were third-quarter interceptions, both were detrimental to the comeback. Who is to blame? Newton? His offensive line? Jonathan Stewart’s ankle? DeAngelo Williams?
Cam responded to the media by saying, “I don’t know what you want me to say, no one likes losing. The most frustrating part on my behalf is knowing I wish I could have those two throws back.”
Media is already coming down hard on Mr. GQ. Just one game into the season and his doubters are seeming pretty confident Cam Newton is right on cue for the predicted slump. Write ups in the local newspapers and on the internet were titled, “Sunday without a Superman Celebration,” “Newton’s 2nd Year Begins with a Thud”, and “Here Comes the Sophomore Slump.”
But riddle me this. Cam found his name on the top ten charts for completion percentage and his 9.2 YPA also fell in the top ten. Yet, these numbers don’t fit the story the media is trying to focus on. The decision seems unanimous across the charts, lets harp on the negative, lets harp on the interceptions, lets harp on the story that has yet to unveil itself – the story of Newton ACTUALLY slumping. However, in the media’s eyes, their fight is to do whatever it takes to sell to the nation that after game 1/week 1, Mr. Newton is actually in a slump.
After getting blasted with questions after the disheartening loss, Newton answered by saying, “Lets move on, we have the New Orleans Saints at home on Sunday, lets move on.”
While the overall outcome of the game was not in the Panther’s favor, there were spurts of a potential league champion type play. Newton managed to connect with Louis Murphy on a 51-yard deep route, the defense stepped up at the half to position the Panthers for a comeback, and Jon Beason lead the team in tackles.
One thing to take away from the outcome of week one is this, there are 32 total teams in the NFL and 16 teams in the NFC. Someone has to lose. After all, the defending world champs lost in week 1. Coach Rivera said after the game, “Cam did make some mistakes and it was, at times unlike him.”
So with all of this being said, the media, the public eye, Panther nation, doubters, and critics should know, the Cam we know and love will be back. Week 2 is just 6 days away, and you better believe Newton is preparing himself and his team to be victorious. Although the noise around the nation is buzzing over his so called failures, his ability to move on and better himself from week to week will prevail.