Cam Newton drowns out divisive criticism as team searches for winning gameplan
Arguably the toughest and most scrutinized job in the National Football League is the quarterback position. No matter how successful, notorious or impartial a player can be, they are not spared criticism at some point in their careers.
Despite former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donavan McNabb being named to six Pro Bowls during his career that spanned 1999 to 2011, primarily with the Eagles and his ability to lead a virtually controversy free life, the signal caller still receives criticism for not winning a Super Bowl. Even his 37,276 passing yards, 234 touchdowns and five NFC Championship appearances can't erase his failure to guide his team to victory in the "Big Game".
Joe Namath, who thrilled audiences from 1965-77 for the New York Jets and St. Louis Rams threw for 27,663 passing yards and 173 touchdowns in a career where critics thought he left a lot on the table. Dubbed Broadway, Namath became infamous when a feud with then NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle went public. The commissioner urged Namath to shut down a bar that he owned due to concerns about the league's image as it related to the quarterback's off the field escapades.
And now Cam Newton, perhaps in his final stint with the Carolina Panthers, is under fire for his share of the responsibility in the team's recent losses. Prior to that, he received flack because critics suggested he spent too much of his energy on wearing the proper hat and ensemble to press conferences than the mounting pressure to work through injuries and losses during his previous years with the Panthers. He was also hammered for having a larger-than-life personality and the effects it could have on developing players. But through it all, Newton has emerged from each step of the journey more savvy than the previous episode with regard to deflecting the hits. This week it was about the dual quarterback experiment by the team to maximize the strengths of both Newton's experience in the red zone as well as superior rushing ability and Darnold's knowledge of the playbook in the midfield range. "I'm just trying to find a way to win," Newton said.
"Sam is who he is. PJ is who he is. Cam is who he is."
Newton has 74 career rushing touchdowns. With one rushing touchdown in Sunday's matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he will become the first quarterback in NFL history to garner a rushing touchdown in each of his first six consecutive games.
If the team does win this week, it will be Newton's first win since returning to the organization. It will also break a four-game winning streak. As far as what the team can learn from a win on Sunday is open for debate. But as far as Cam Newton is concerned, he was clear about where his energy is focused as he pretended to spray a mist into the air. "Whatever it's gonna take …two quarterback system, three quarterback system, wildcat, wild dog, trick play …call it up.