He has his fans and critics. Some of it based on his on-the-field performance and some of it even based on his off-the-field fashion choices. Cam Newton is a polarizing sports figure who has enjoyed more success than failure when it’s all said and done. He’s currently preparing for his second season as the quarterback of the New England Patriots, a franchise coming off its first losing campaign since 2000 and first playoff absence since ’08.
Of course, he was the primary field general for the Carolina Panthers for basically nine seasons for nine seasons prior to joining the Pats. And following the team’s Super Bowl appearance in 2015 and Newton’s MVP showing that season, it’s been an up-and-down stretch for the first overall pick in the NFL Draft 10 years ago. It’s worth reviewing the early stages of the talented performer’s career.
Newton took his lumps his first two seasons but he helped lead the club to three straight division titles from 2013-15. Over that stretch, he connected on 60.0 percent of his throws for 10,343 yards and more than twice as many touchdown passes (77) as interceptions (35). There were 10 lost fumbles over that 46-game stretch as well. Add in a combined 1,760 yards rushing and 21 scores on the ground and he was one of the most productive players in the league.
The drop-off in 2016 was noticeable as Newton connected on a career-low 52.9 percent of his passes. There were almost as many scoring tosses (19) as turnovers (16). And after running for 636 yards and 10 TDs during his 2015 NFL MVP campaign, he ran for only 359 yards and five touchdowns in ’16. And Carolina tumbled to 6-10 and last place in the NFC South.
But the big-play quarterback rebounded in 2017, upping his completion percentage to 59.1. There were 22 scores through the air and 16 picks, but he lost just one fumble and ran for 754 yards and six scores. Including the playoffs, the Panthers were an 11-6 team that season but three of their losses were via the division rival Saints.
Latest Patriots News
- New England Patriots Mock Draft Version 2.0
- A Clare Perspective: The Sugar Fix Addiction that is the NFL Draft
- Legend, By Example: Patriots WR Julian Edelman Announces Retirement
- Pioli: The Moment Patriots Knew They Were On To “Something” In Tom Brady
- Patriots: Bringing Back Cam Newton in 2021 Makes Plenty of Sense
The Panthers were off to a 6-2 start in ’18 and Newton rarely looked better. He connected on 67.3 percent of his attempts for 1,893 yards, 15 scores and only four interceptions. He had already run for 342 yards and four scores and did not lose a fumble despite being sacked 12 times. But he suffered a shoulder injury in a Thursday night loss at Pittsburgh and wasn’t really the same the rest of the year. He underwent surgery but then another blow as he injured his foot in a preseason game at New England. He started the first two games of the season but again, he was obviously hobbled.
That would be the last we would see Newton with the Panthers. He was released early in 2020 and due to the world’s circumstances and concerns about his health, he would not sign with a team until June and it would be a one-year deal with the Patriots. Three games into the season, he showed signs of putting the pieces back together. But then COVID-19 knocked him out of action in a Week 4 tilt vs. the Chiefs and he never seemed to recover his earlier form. Still, he’s back with the Patriots via a new one-year deal and the organization was busy spending money and adding talent to a roster in dire need of it.
All told, it’s been a rough two-plus years for Newton due to injuries, illness and other circumstances. But 2021 figures to be much different as time goes on and normalcy returns for everyone. Don’t rule out a bounce-back season for the 10-year pro. And the opportunity is certainly there given the additions made by the Patriots this offseason.