Cam Newton exceeded all expectations last year, especially mine. Coming out of Auburn I was not expecting Cam Newton to be able to adapt to the NFL game. Watching his interview with Coach John Gruden, when he could not name a single play, I thought he was going to fail.
I have no problem admitting I was wrong. Cam Newton exploded onto the scene and became a superstar in the NFL. There's a long history of Quarterbacks that perform well their rookie year and suffer a sophomore slump. I think that Cam Newton has a lot of factors working in his favor that will help him succeed in 2012.
Last year Cam Newton came into the League during a heated labor dispute. Due to the Owners lockout Cam was not able to participate in any offseason workouts or any organized team activities. When the labor dispute was finalized, camp and preseason was compressed giving teams even less time to work with Rookies, putting Cam into an even bigger hole.
Cam Newton responded by putting up huge numbers for a rookie. What was even more amazing was his poise as a QB and how he handled his personal success. I found myself watching Panthers games just to see how he was going to perform.
How will Cam respond in 2012? I think he's going to exceed expectations again this season. In fact, I've predicted him to be the #1 Fantasy QB in 2012.
There are several things working in Cam's favor. Not only does Cam Newton have a full season as an NFL starting QB, but he has an entire offseason program with the team. Additionally, the Panthers have an entire offseason to figure out how to use Cam Newton. The Panthers did not know what they had in Cam Newton heading into last season. The offensive game plan was adjusting every week trying to build on Cam's strengths and feed him as many plays as he could handle. I expect the Panthers to put together more planned runs, rollout passes and more ways for Cam to find the end zone with his legs.
The Panthers have a lot of work to do in order to make the playoffs. Their defense needs to get a lot better or they will not have a chance. I expect them to finish with six wins, not because they aren't improving, but because they have a tough schedule. I do expect them to contend for a playoff spot next season if they continue to build their defense.