It doesn’t take an expert to realize that something is wrong with Cam Newton. Whether the cumulative effects of the various injuries he has suffered throughout his career have taken a toll on him, or there’s a specific injury causing a problem, it’s now clear that Newton is a shell of his former self. In Newton’s last 16 games, he’s thrown just 16 touchdown passes… while throwing 16 interceptions. In Newton’s MVP season of 2015, he averaged more than two passing touchdowns per game, and just over half an interception per game. The Panthers scored just 9 points against the Bills last week, but the bottom fell out yesterday.
Facing what had been a historically bad Saints defense, Newton produced the single-worst game of his career: He threw 26 passes but gained just 167 yards, while taking four sacks and losing 28 yards. That’s an ugly 4.6 NY/A, but it gets much worse when you realize he had no touchdowns and three interceptions. That translates to a 0.13 ANY/A average, the worst statistical performance of Newton’s career. Again: this came against the Saints.
This game also dropped Newton’s ANY/A over his last 16 games to below 5.00. That’s right: over Newton’s last 16 games, he has the following stat line: 279/520 (54%), 3,528 yards (6.8 Y/A), 16 TDs, 16 INTs, 42 sacks for 337 yards, and 4.97 ANY/A. The graph below shows Newton’s single game ANY/A (in blue) and trailing 16 game ANY/A (in black) for each game of his career (playoffs excluded):
So… Newton is performing really poorly as a passer, at least statistically. But slumps happen, right? That alone wouldn’t be enough to conclude that somethign is wrong with Newton. But then there’s this: In his last 16 games, he’s rushed for just 314 yards. Over his last 10 games, he’s rushed for 144 yards. This is Cam Newton! The graph below shows Newton’s rushing yards in each game plotted in blue against the left Y-Axis, and his trailing 16 game rushing total in black against the right Y-Axis. As you can see, the trend is unmistakable:
So yeah, something is wrong with Newton. He shouldn’t be averaging 1 TD, 1 INT, and 20 rushing yards per game. Oh, and if you care about things like yards per carry, Newton is averaging just 3.6 yards per carry over his last 16 games, also (easily) the worst of his career.
It was unrealistic to expect Newton to continue to play at an MVP level after 2015, but star quarterbacks don’t play like backups at the age of 28 without an explanation.