Cam Newton had the kind of season that Carolina Panthers fans like me could only dream about in 2011. He broke tons of records, made believers out of most of his skeptics and helped the Panthers become a highly competitive franchise. With an improved defense in 2012, the sky is the limit. Despite these incredible accomplishments, Cam Newton can still improve in a great many ways. Here are three vital passing statistics that must improve for the Panthers to make waves in the NFC South:
Throwing interceptions is the most direct way to cost your team wins, and Cam did it 17 times during his 2011 season. This number should be less than ten for the Panthers to truly compete for a playoff position. When you consider all the factors, it is easy to see why he threw so many. Still, a large number of them were simply bad decisions. Rookie quarterbacks are going to make those bad decisions on occasion. Even the great Peyton Manning did and look at him now. Cam Newton can fix this also by learning the offense a bit better. He had no training camp in 2011 to speak of, so that certainly did not help.
Though this is not a passing statistic exactly, it is certainly a part of the passing game. Taking sacks is almost like turnovers in that it can completely alter the course of a game. Taking a sack can literally take points off the board. Cam Newton, despite his incredible agility and mobility, took 35 sacks in his epic rookie season. That number is incredibly high for him. I can see him cutting it in half in 2012. Certainly he runs the ball more than most quarterbacks and that accounts for some of the sacks, but the majority were offensive line problems and decision making. Both should improve in 2012.
When Cam Newton came into the league in 2011, this was the category that most skeptics used to try to knock Cam Newton's chances of success. He responded by passing the football for all types of records and he even managed a solid 60% completion percentage. Though this number is not bad, it is not elite level. Cam Newton certainly can pass the ball at around a 65% level if he learns the offense well enough and injuries on the offensive line stay minimal. His arm is incredible and he is fully capable of hitting his targets accurately. He proved that in 2011.
These are far from the only ways that Cam can improve, but they are important ones. If he can make some baby steps towards improving some things in 2012 and the Panthers can improve that defense, there is no reason why they can't shock the experts and win the NFC South.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
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