Is 2013 a make or break season for Carolina Panthers, Cam Newton
In 2011 the Carolina Panthers made some bold moves in hopes of restoring the team’s winning ways. After going 2-14 the team fired long time head coach John Fox and replaced him with then, San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Rivera’s first order of business was to find a franchise quarterback and the team selected Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. Despite a less than pedestrian performance during Newton’s inaugural preseason, Rivera quickly put his stamp on the team naming Newton the starter for Week 1. It was a questionable move that eventually made Rivera look like a genius. As everyone knows, Newton went on to have the most prolific season ever to date for a rookie quarterback throwing for over 4000 yards while completing 60 percent of his passes and scoring a combined 35 touchdowns (21 passing, 14 rushing). Despite Newton’s impressive numbers, the team finished 6-10, but the future was looking bright for the Carolina Panthers.
Unfortunately the Panthers, Rivera and Newton seem to be following the one step forward, two steps backward instruction manual. Despite having a better record in 2012 (7-9) the Panthers and Newton looked awful at times. After getting off to a 2-8 start where everything that could go wrong did, the Panthers managed to turn things around winning four of their last six. It was a stretch that likely saved Rivera’s job and has Panther fans optimistic heading into 2013.
This upcoming season will tell a lot about the Panthers. Will Cam Newton’s numbers continue to slide or will he shake his sophomore slump and prove he’s the dominant player who took the league by storm in 2011? Is Ron Rivera a legitimate head coach who can get his team to the playoffs? Those questions will be answered on the field and only one thing is for certain. If the Panthers don’t finish 9-7 and at least flirt with the playoffs, the team will look a lot different come 2014. That’s just the business that has become the NFL.