After leading the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl at the end of an incredible 2015 campaign in which he won the NFL’s MVP award, Cam Newton was ranked at the No. 1 spot of the NFL Network’s “Top 100” list last offseason.
However, in 15 games played, Newton struggled mightily on the field in 2016, completing just 52.9 percent of his passes for 3,509 passing yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a career-low rating of 75.8. He also rushed for a career-low 359 yards and tied a career-low with five touchdowns on the ground as well.
Therefore, when the network put out their annual list this offseason, it was expected that the quarterback would fall.
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But, it’s safe to say that the drop that he took was pretty shocking, as he was ranked as the 44th-best player in the NFL with the following rationale:
“Newton began the 2016 season with a target on his back. It was evident in Denver's Week 1 concentrated bashing of the star quarterback, and it showed throughout Carolina's struggle-filled campaign. Newton falls nearly halfway through the entire Top 100, from No. 1 last year to No. 44. The 2016 season was a far cry from his dab-filled frolic to Super Bowl 50.”
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While it’s tough to imagine that 43 other players are better than Newton, he seemed to be punished mainly due to his major regression last season.
Due to a combination of factors (such as injuries, a porous offensive line and early large deficits which made him force passes), Newton’s numbers fell off from the year before, when he threw for 3,837 yards with 35 touchdowns and 10 picks for a 99.4 passer rating.
As explained in the clip below, there wasn’t anything that Newton couldn’t do on the field in 2015, but in 2016, that changed:
While the mental aspect of his play is certainly in question, it also is important to note that he wasn’t fully healthy towards the end of the year.
As Panthers.com pointed out, Newton played the final three and a half games with a partially-torn rotator cuff. Having gone through offseason shoulder surgery to correct the issue, he should be a top candidate to bounce back in 2017 if he’s fully healthy to start the season.
Two other Panthers have been named to the prestigious list as well. Tight end Greg Olsen was ranked No. 67 while linebacker Thomas Davis came in at No. 89. Additionally, quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (50) and Andrew Luck (51) came in just behind Newton on the list.
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