Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera didn’t sugarcoat the misery that was Cam Newton’s 2016 campaign speaking to reporters on Wednesday.
“He’s gonna have to rebuild his confidence. I mean he was shook. Let’s be honest. I’m not going to lie about that,” Rivera said at the Annual League Meeting Wednesday morning (h/t Conor Orr of NFL.com). “The young man went through a tough time and we went through a tough time. Why? Because of the injuries that we suffered on the offensive line. That was probably was the biggest thing. It just kind of shows you the more of the importance of being able to protect your quarterback.”
At least Rivera didn’t throw Newton under the bus. If anything he’s putting the onus on protection, which is something that general manager Dave Gettleman might want to hear loud and clear. Yes, Carolina did suffer injuries, but overall the talent hasn’t been up to snuff on that offensive line for a few years now.
Newton is a top-10 quarterback when he’s healthy and getting protection. No, he’s not a surgical as the likes of Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, but what he does overall is unique, and it makes him one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL.
Last season, his completion percentage was the lowest it’s been since he entered the league (52.9 percent), he threw just 19 touchdowns and coughed up 14 interceptions and had the worst rushing season of his career.
No doubt, his confidence took a big hit. Heck, he took plenty of those (literally) last year as well. So much so that he’s going to miss OTAs after undergoing shoulder surgery.
Hopefully the Panthers can find some talented offensive linemen in the draft. They did bring in left tackle Ryan Kalil, but we’re not confident whatsoever he’ll help improve Newton’s fortunes. If that’s the case, then Carolina’s franchise passer might suffer through another miserable campaign.