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Cam Newton: The Hype is Real

by Photo of Jake Langbecker

Panthers’ QB Cam Newton Surprised Everyone but Himself on Sunday

Cam Newton: The Hype is Real

Count me amongst the Cam Newton haters that did not think the rookie quarterback would translate well to the NFL, especially in his first season. It took all of one game for Newton to prove me and all the other doubters wrong. After almost leading the Carolina Panthers to an opening week road victory against the Arizona Cardinals, it is clear the Panthers have found their franchise quarterback for years to come. 

Newton returned to the site of his last meaningful football game, the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The last time he was here it was still as a boy leading the Auburn Tigers to a National Championship throwing for 265 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception on 20/34 attempts. This time Newton was a man throwing for 422 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception on 24/37 attempts. Newton fell just short of leading a game-tying drive and the Panthers lost 28-21 to the Cardinals.

Many aspects of Newton's game were criticized before he entered the NFL, most notably by QB guru Jon Gruden

The criticisms were all similar. Newton took most of his snaps from the shotgun, he ran a spread offense unlike the pro-style type of offenses in the NFL, he ran a simplistic offense that didn't require him to make many reads, he wasn't accurate enough to be an NFL quarterback. Well Newton responded to just about all of those criticisms and set a record in the process.

Newton set the record for most passing yards by a rookie in an opening game and tied Matthew Stafford for most passing yards in any game during a rookie season. Newton still has 15 games to try and best Stafford. Due to the lockout Newton did not benefit from a full off-season and training camp to familiarize himself with the playbook and offense. Yet in Week 1, he still ran and executed the offense with poise like he'd been running it for years. Unfamiliar pro-style offense, unfamiliarity with "NFL verbiage", not a problem for Newton.

As for Newton only being able to work out of the shotgun, his second touchdown to Steve Smith came from under center and Newton looked comfortable doing that all game. 

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Newton was his disappointment. Newton could have easily gotten caught up in his big statistical debut but instead was visibly upset that the Panthers lost the game and that he lost a game for the first time in years. As told to the Associated Press:

"The last time I lost a game was Navarro Junior College," Newton said. "What do you want me to say, it feels great? It is not a comfortable feeling for me."

Yes it was only one game and not every game will be like this. Newton will experience plenty of growing pains throughout his rookie season but even just this glimpse of greatness is enough to believe Newton will succeed at the NFL level. 

After one week Newton already has a transcendent performance to try and re-create or even improve upon. That can do amazing things for a young quarterback's confidence. To do it once means you're capable of doing it again. The QB class of 2010 featuring Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Jimmy Claussen, and Tim Tebow have never had a game like Newton just did. I assure you they all wish they had experienced the confidence boost of a 400+ yard day especially Tebow and Claussen who now finds themselves buried on their respective team's depth charts. 

Next up for Newton is the Green Bay Packers who boast a frightening pass rush but a secondary that was exploited by Drew Brees. Expectations were extremely low for the Panthers and Newton entering this season but after the first game those will rise and you better believe the hype is real.

For the best tickets to see rookie phenom Cam Newton and the Panthers play be sure to visit Charged.fm

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