The Carolina Panthers were projected by some as one of the potential breakout teams in the NFL last season after Cam Newton’s stellar rookie campaign, but that didn’t prove to be the case as Ron Rivera’s squad found itself picking in the top 15 again.
With the roster the Panthers have, it is a bit surprising they weren’t able to be stronger contenders for the playoffs last season, but I think a lot of it had to do with the attitude and mindset of their leader, former Heisman-Trophy winner Cam Newton.
With a solid 2013 draft class, the Panthers appear once again ready to possibly make that playoff run. They play in one of the more up-and-coming divisions in football with the established Falcons and one of my sleeper teams in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not to mention, with Sean Payton back on the sidelines, I think the Saints will be much better as well.
This is a big year for the Panthers, and they are going to need some breakout seasons from a few players. Here are three of the candidates to have a huge year for the Panthers, one from each of the last three draft classes.
Third Year — Cam Newton, QB
In basically every way, Newton was worse in his second NFL season than he was as a rookie. Passing yardage, touchdowns, completion percentage, and rushing touchdowns were all areas Newton blew people away in as a rookie, and then got a little worse in 2012.
I think a lot of it had to do with Newton’s attitude. From the time he left Auburn, he was a Heisman Trophy winner, National Championship winner, first overall pick, rookie of the year who had everything going for him. When the going got tough, he became a bit of a baby, and that attitude rubbed the rest of the team wrong and it ended up costing the Panthers victories.
Newton had to re-focus this offseason and dropped some weight, and has taken charge as the leader of the team, and I think he is poised for a breakout season. The Panthers plan to run a more up-tempo offense, and there is no doubt that the former number one overall pick will be the focus. He should be in line for a big 2013 season.