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Friday, January 20, 2012

Wrong About Newton

I was wrong about Cam Newton. I saw a team reaching for a quarterback that they felt they needed, instead of the best player, and in that, I was wrong.

It started with the disappointment of Andrew Luck staying in school, and even Luck at one point I felt was being pushed because of unhappiness about Jimmy Clausen. There was a time where I still felt like Clausen could be the guy enough to not want another high QB, but that time has passed.

I honestly wasn't even sure Cam Newton was worth a top pick - he wasn't ready, he was being hyped because of athleticism. I wanted a pocket QB. I've been burned by athletic, big armed QBs before, and those were often guys who didn't look like they wanted to run first. In the end, I had concerns about readiness and had him around 15th, which I don't regret (I tried to like Blaine Gabbert, but what an awful QB). He's proven me wrong, but I don't feel bad about the criticism, which was mostly on-field.

That's one thing that definitely distracted from his game - the shell game of his character issues. A lot of the pre-draft discussion was on that, not on more important things like accuracy. It wasn't whether he was a good QB, it was whether his past performance indicated whether he was going to be a good citizen. I remained concerned about accuracy, and readiness. I never would've assumed he could start from day one, and going into week 1 I'd still not seen anything that suggested he should. By the end of that week, all doubt was gone.
He has had some blips - but minor ones - that include the moodiness on failure and the occasional slip of the tongue that says the wrong thing. That part, that has to improve. But the concerns of being a negative, a distraction, right now are gone. From here on, hopefully, it's just a matter of protecting him better and getting him to limit the turnovers.

To this day, it seems that Newton isn't always completely ready - he's talked occasionally about getting the playcall wrong and being corrected in-huddle, and early in the season there was motion on the field that seemed to happen without Newton's signal, and even occasionally surprised him. But it worked, and it still does. Inevitably, he's going to have to get around more of the offense, including making the calls and signaling the shifts, even audibles hopefully.

But, for right now, what they're doing is working. And I'm continuing to be happily wrong. Even if he never returns to his 400 yards a game starting glory, if he can make his throws and pickup third downs as he's done, I'm OK with that.
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