NFL

Can Cam Newton, The Self-Proclaimed Superman, Change The Game?

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Cam Newton raised a few eyebrows with his interesting take on himself and his abilities.

“I say this with the most humility, but I don’t think nobody has ever been who I’m trying to be,” Newton said, via Pro Football Talk.  “Nobody has the size, nobody has the speed, nobody has the arm strength, nobody had the intangibles that I’ve had.

“I’m not saying I’m the one-on-one type of person that this league will never see again.  No, I’m not saying that, hear me out.  I’m just saying that so much of my talents have not been seen in one person.”

Cam Newton’s humility will never be confused with Clark Kent, the mild-mannered alter-ego of Superman, whom he emulates following touchdown runs.  The question is, can Cam Newton turn those once-in-a-lifetime physical talents into enough production on the field to make his team a champion?

My bet is no, but I’m not sure by his comments if a champion is who he’s trying to be.  He never made clear what he’s trying to be.  Are his talents even enough to change the game in a small way?  His current offensive coordinator was my quarterback coach when I played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and I don’t see Newton’s unique talents causing Mike Shula to revamp his offense to any great degree.

In some sense Newton is right and that is why he was a former first pick of the draft.  Unfortunately for both Newton and the Panthers, he hasn’t been able to make his superhero physical attributes translate to professional football enough to get his team anywhere near striking distance of a championship.

I predicted that he would not raise the level of his play last season, his fifth, primarily because his passing mechanics (footwork is generally awful) are not improving and they are not good enough now to become the elite player that he is describing and the Panthers presumably hoped he would become after dominating college football while at Auburn.  Those college talents gave some rise to the idea of possibly changing pro football’s offensive philosophies to add power running from the QB as a regular part of an effective attack.

Scramblers have had success (e.g. Michael Vick, Steve Young), but power running QB’s is a newer concept and Tim Tebow, although desperately lacking the necessary passing skill and ability to read and react to defensive pass coverages, worked his way into a first round pick as well.  But the Broncos gave up on him after just two seasons and so did the Jets the following year.  Unfortunately for Newton, he too lacks the passing mechanics to reach the pinnacle of the NFL and is quickly reaching the inevitable downhill slide of his physical superiority without the improvement in throwing mechanics and decision-making.

Robert Griffin III was the next contender for changing the game, but serious early-career injuries significantly derailed that concept and as part of Newton’s comments, he mentioned nagging injuries as well.  Putting the quarterback at additional risk by deliberately running him has always been anathema for good reason, as the inevitable has borne out time after time.

Currently Russell Wilson is the “it” guy—using mobility to improve his team.  But the Seattle Seahawks rarely ask him to run the same types of plays that Newton is familiar with and the diminutive QB in the Pacific Northwest looks more like the prototype quarterback of the future than the big, strong, fast, not-so-humble guy in Carolina.

We really haven’t seen any other guys similar to Wilson, so predicting a flood of under 6-foot QB’s into the NFL is highly unlikely and since slow-footed guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning can still lead their teams deep into the playoffs and even take home Lombardi Trophies once in a while, don’t expect the league to move very far from what it has been for so long; a pocket-passing league of strong-armed surgeons, not humble Superman types.


About Jeff Carlson

Jeff Carlson

Former NFL quarterback, training youth QB's in Tampa, Florida. Football Analyst for Bright House Sports Network and Football Insiders.