The Carolina Panthers are undefeated on the season, sitting pretty with an impeccable 5-0 record that leads the NFC South. No seriously, they are.
The Panthers are a surprise team this year, coming out of the offseason losing Greg Hardy on defense, not really adding much talent to a shaky offensive line, and then losing stud receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL, many predicted that this year Panthers team would struggle, oh how they were wrong.
The man behind center, quarterback Cam Newton, got a healthy $104 million contract ($60 million in guarantees) and then took it upon himself to prove to the Panthers, and the league, he was worth every cent.
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Struggling for Options
After Kelvin Benjamin went down with the ACL injury, effectively ending his season, and with the Panthers cutting veterans such as DeAngelo Williams and Steve Smith the year prior, you looked at this Panthers offense and it scared no one.
With Greg Olsen as seemingly the biggest receiving threat, and Tedd Ginn Jr being the number one receiver, along with a patchwork offensive line, and an aging, injury-prone Jonathan Stewart at running back, you thought to yourself that this Panthers team would struggle to move the chains, nevermind score.
What people weren't expecting was the growth and maturation Cam Newton has gone through since a year ago, the quarterback is no longer found hiding underneath a towel after an interception, he is no longer visibly distant from his teammates when things go wrong, in fact, he is the opposite nowadays, and his play is also showing similar signs of growth.
Cam no longer looks for running lanes over passing options, he no longer stares down receivers, he has great pocket awareness and poise, and his touch on some passes are a thing of beauty. With this development of Cam's play and the current undefeated streak the Panthers are on, it has brought up the topic of Cam Newton for MVP.
Is the Panthers quarterback worthy of such an accolade? Yes. Are there also other people deserving? Also, Yes. So who should win it? Well, that's a difficult question, but I am going to give you my take on why Cam Newton deserves MVP consideration over the likes of Brady, Rodgers etc.
Look what Cam is working with
Cam Newton is technically working with an average at best offense, they have no one, outside of Cam Newton himself that keeps you awake at night. His best receiving option is a 30-year-old tight end who, no disrespect, isn't the most athletic of players. Olsens style of play harkens more to the Heath Miller's and Jason Witten's of the league, rather than the Gronkowski's and Travis Kelce's, meaning he isn't particularly fast, he isn't uncoverable, he does have great hands and is a good route runner, but he is hardly an unstoppable machine.
Next in line is Tedd Ginn Jr, also 30-years-old, who is 5'11 and fast, but primarily known as a kick returner over a number one receiver. The drop off from a huge playmaking target like Kelvin Benjamin to Ted Ginn Jr is evident in the fact that Benjamin had 416-yards receiving through six weeks of play last year; Tedd Ginn Jr has almost half of that with 206-yards receiving through the first six weeks of this year. Clearly much less production.
The Panthers offensive line is led by veterans Ryan Khalil and Micheal Oher but are hardly a force to be reckoned with, they have struggled blocking in both passing and running so far this year which has led to the Panthers allowing ten sacks and developing an incapability to run the ball effectively, which brings me to the Panthers run game.
Jonathan Stewart has ran for 298-yards so far, he is averaging 3.8-yards per carry and has yet to have a game this season where he has ran for over 80-yards. Cam Newton is second in the team in rushing with 225-yards, he also has more rushing touchdowns than Stewart has with three.
So how are the Panthers undefeated?
The Carolina Panthers are undefeated because their seventh-ranked defense is playing some seriously good ball right now, they have a knack for clutch interceptions and are visibly playing together for one another, it's great to watch.
The other reason why they are undefeated is because Cam Newton is carrying the offense and making clutch plays when necessary, what I just described in the section above is hardly an offense that should be undefeated, especially when you look at the other undefeated teams. The Patriots are ranked second in offense, The Bengals are ranked third, the Panthers are ranked twenty-eighth. There is no one on the Panthers offense outside of Cam Newton who is boasting out of this world stats, and to be fair, Cam Newton isn't even boasting out of this world stats, he has eight touchdowns, four interceptions and has a completion rate of 54.2% which is pretty average.
So why are you giving Cam Newton the MVP vote then?
I am giving Cam Newton the MVP for a number of reasons, my main reason is because he has been the entire Panthers offense thus far this season, with eight passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns, he is a threat both running and passing the ball.
My second reason is that the other MVP candidates have some serious weapons to play alongside. Tom Brady has Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Rodgers has a solid offensive line along with Randall Cobb and a re-emerged James Jones, Andy Dalton has AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, and one of the best overall team rosters backing him up.
Cam Newton has none of this, and he is still guiding his team to wins and will most likely lead the Panthers to the NFC South crown for the third straight time.
Am I saying that none of the other candidates are worth the MVP vote, no of course not, Tom Brady is having a remarkable season, as is Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton!
Wow where did he came from; but at the end of the day MVP stands for 'most valuable player', it is not about statistics or completion rate, it is about how valuable you are to your team. I think if you took Cam Newton out of the equation for the Panthers, they would be a totally different team and certainly not an undefeated one.