Monday, September 12, 2011

So about those Panthers...

I, along with the rest of Packernation, was under the assumption that the Green and Gold would be able to stroll into Charlotte next week and come out with an easy win against the hapless Panthers. You know, the same Panthers team that went 2-14 last season and is now relying on an unpolished rookie QB, who completed only 42% of his passes and recorded a passer rating of 64.9 this preseason.

But that was before this afternoon.

Before Cam Newton put together one of the most impressive professional debuts for a rookie QB. Ever. At least statistically.

The former Heisman winner compiled 422 yards (an NFL rookie record), while completing just under 65% of his passes. He threw for 2 touchdowns and ran for another. His passer rating was an astounding 110. 

It was like his pedestrian play in the preseason was a ruse, a ploy meant to lure NFL defenses into a sense of paralyzing complacency, leaving them helpless when the gloves came off and the Cam really decided to play...

Now let's take a step back and infuse some reality into this assessment.

The Panthers weren't playing one of the NFL's stalwart defenses. They were playing the Arizona Cardinals, who had one of the defensive worst units in the league a season ago. The Cardinals gave up the 23rd most passing yards in 2010, and that was when they still had Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie roaming their secondary. To be sure, Newton was the beneficiary of some blown coverages.

And Newton wasn't flawless, by any stretch of the imagination. I didn't watch the game, but I did see the replay on his lone interception, and it was pretty bad. Like throwing-into-double-coverage bad. Typical of what you'd expect from a green-behind-the-ears rookie signal caller. Which, after all, Cam Newton is.

Nonetheless, he played a lot better than many people were expecting him to so early in the season. And for Packer Backers, that might mean taking Sunday's game a little more seriously than we'd been planning to. It's also especially concerning that he seems to have found a rapport with the speedy Steve Smith, who has served as the Packers' kryptonite in seasons past. Against the Cardinals, Smith nearly reached 200 yards receiving and hauled in 2 TDs, so it would appear that he's back to his old tricks after a horrendous 2010 campaign.

Let me make this clear. The Packers are still going to win this game, probably by double-digits. They're simply the better team, in all facets of the game. But don't be surprised if Cam Newton isn't the turnover prone, mentally weak, inaccurate youngster we've been expecting him to be.

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