Panthers' Newton has eased early season concerns

Posted Dec. 21, 2012 @ 12:22 p.m.
Posted By Dan Parr

While the Panthers’ issues extended well beyond the quarterback position during their 2-8 start this season, Cam Newton’s struggles were part of the problem.

He and the Panthers have been on the rebound, though, winning three of their past four games. Newton has had the best five-game stretch of his career. He is a different player from the one league observers watched earlier in the season, and Newton has only solidified himself as the franchise cornerstone in his second year in the league.

Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has adjusted his protection schemes over the course of the season, and Newton has not been under duress quite as much in the past few weeks. Newton has adjusted, too. He is making better decisions and we hear the team believes he has matured as a player.

Newton’s resurgence and the team’s improved performance of late has led some team observers to reconsider their position on whether Ron Rivera should be retained as head coach in 2013. Firing Rivera likely would mean Newton would be learning a new offensive system this offseason, and the potential drawbacks of putting the young quarterback in that position might be a consideration for owner Jerry Richardson as he weighs his head-coaching options.