2017 Grade: .452
2017 3rd Down: .230
Week 1 at San Francisco: Cam Newton looked exactly like you’d expect a guy that threw just two pre-season passes, coming off shoulder surgery, to look. He was rusty, inaccurate and didn’t trust his eyes the way he normally does. The GIF below is as easy of a touchdown as a quarterback in the NFL will get. That’s why he gets a -3 (lowest score possible) for that egregious throw.
Week 2 vs. Buffalo: Newton was positively dazzling early in the game. Threading needles and picking up critical first downs on third down had pundits thinking the rust had been shaken – then the second half started. His accuracy issues popped up again as he missed some WIDE OPEN targets, most notably an easy touchdown that would’ve put the game away in the fourth. He’s showing signs of MVP Cam, but he’s far from that level right now.
Week 3 vs. New Orleans: Keeping Cam Newton healthy is clearly a priority for the Panthers, but hemming his game in isn’t doing anyone in that organization any favors. An offense that used to use his dynamic skillset to push the ball down the field and create designed runs for Newton is now a dink-and-dunk operation. That’s not Newton’s game, and he’s suffering as a result. His short area accuracy was a major problem in this game, and resulted in a few turnovers.
Week 4 at New England: As a passer, Cam Newton didn’t do anything special against the Patriots. But that’s a step up from where he has been the first three games of the season. Newton’s accuracy issues only showed up on one throw out of the 38 registered drop backs. He exposed the glaring holes and breakdowns in communication in the Patriots defense as the Panthers ran roughshod in Foxboro. Best of all, Vintage Cam showed up, as he ran the ball as effectively as he has since 2015. Panthers fans should be very encouraged with this performance.
Week 5 at Detroit: 2015 vintage Cam Newton is back – or close to it. This off-season, I wrote that Cam was the fourth best quarterback in football. Not that I’m neglecting some of the short area accuracy, because that’s still there, but the dynamic element to his game should not be overlooked. He’s back to being a short yardage conversion beast. He’s attacking down the field with tremendous touch, zip and accuracy. He’s playing with a confidence and rhythm that we didn’t see last year. Cam scored 11 points on 14 third down drop backs and had just three negatively graded plays of his 37 registered plays. The Panthers are a dangerous outfit, and they have their transcendent quarterback to thank.
Week 6 vs. Philadelphia: If you judge Cam Newton solely off his ability to win from the pocket, you’re being disingenuous to his skill set. All things considered, he played a good game on Thursday until the final two series. Two of the three interceptions were tipped passes (one was in the bread basket of Jonathan Stewart and dropped) and he made big plays throughout the course of the game. His accuracy issues arose at the end, but he still had the Panthers moving the ball all night.