Cam changes his throwing motion rather than his running style.
Cam Newton has been a compromised version of himself while battling through multiple injuries in recent seasons. After a miserable 2018 campaign, where it was obvious that something wasn’t right with the All-Pro QB, he underwent a second surgery in the last three years on his throwing shoulder in January.
The injury definitely affected his passing, which was not as potent, crisp or accurate as in the past. Cam has had “accuracy” issues at times, but anyone who’s watched him play since his rookie season in 2011 understands that his problems extend beyond ability or capability as an aging superstar.
I told you back in back in 2017, that “Cam Newton is a dual-threat quarterback who has taken more direct hits than a punch drunk boxer.”
In 2014, Cam missed 2 games because of back and rib injuries. In 2016 he missed a game because of a concussion. In 2017 he underwent his first shoulder surgery and in 2018 he missed the final two games of the regular season with his second shoulder surgery.
Since he entered the league in 2011, Cam has been hit 1,304 times, which is more than any NFL quarterback during that span.
The good news for Panthers fans is that Cam is in minicamp and seems to be recovering well from his surgery. He’s still got the Hollywood smile, the swag, and he’s as popular as ever with the kids.
He’s still a significant face in the NFL, despite throwing for less than 3400 yards the past two seasons with a less-than-stellar TD to pick ration (46-29). The unsettling news — which may turn out to be a huge positive — is that Cam announced that he has changed his throwing mechanics in efforts to regain and maintain the potency in his right wing and avoid unnecessary hits.
“His presence lifted the energy in the practice…,” said Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. “He did exactly what we have scripted out and that was for him to make some targeted throws and see how he feels later on today and tomorrow. That’ll dictate how much more he does…this is all through the process, he’s going through the steps of his recovery and we are very pleased with him.”
Cam is expected to be fully recovered by the time training camp beings in July, but he’s definitely putting in the work. When a QB changes his throwing motion a lot goes into that, according to ESPN analyst and former NFL QB Matt Hasselbeck.
“It’s a lot of work, especially for a guy going into his ninth year in the NFL,” Hasselback said on TV. “When you think of how many passes he has thrown where he’s probably done it a different way… It’s not unusual for guys to tweak and fool around with their throwing motion, so really what it requires is a ton of tedious work on the quarterback’s part, him being able to commit to it. But also the coaching staff perspective… because once the season starts you’re bombarded with game planning. To spend the time working on mechanics when you have a limited amount of time for game planning is difficult and that’s when you see guys revert back to their old ways once you get into the season.”
Cam can’t afford to return to his old ways, but he’s stubborn.
The Panthers have always struggled with regulating the unrestrained aggression and heroic passion that Cam plays the game with. A few years ago, Panthers brass suggested that he not run as much, but that hasn’t worked.
It’s what makes him one of a kind as a quarterback. He’s cocky, confident and reluctant to relinquish his edge. He appears somewhat human when he’s not on his ground-and-pound.
That same confidence, however, has also taken years off of his career and as he gets older, those hits are catching up with him. If the three-time Pro Bowler wants to survive another five healthy years in the league, he has to change some aspects of his game and make his style of play more conducive to longevity than highlight reels.
Changing his elongated throwing motion is a start.
Norv Turner became the team’s new offensive coordinator in 2018, but that didn’t change the fact that Cam still carried the rock more than 100 times last year. He’s only had under 100 carries once in his career. As the 2019 season gets underway, Cam’s new throwing motion will probably be designed for quick releases and getting the ball out of his hands to multi-talented Christian McCaffery, whereas in the past, Cam would get on his jets when the play broke down.
It would be similar to what Pittsburgh did with Ben Roethlisberger, who had taken some vicious hits early in his career. When OC Todd Haley came in they started making Ben release the ball quicker to his weapons.
Protecting Cam has to be the first priority for the Panthers if they want to return to another Super Bowl before his Hall of Fame career is over. Despite the abuse, Cam has taken and the lack of offensive weapons he’s had throughout his career, his durability is matched only by Eli Manning of the Giants as he’s played in at least 14 games in all eight of his seasons.
Hopefully, he can continue to be the NFL’s Superman, just in a safer way.