Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is experiencing the dreaded sophomore slump in 2012. And, honestly, more than half of Panthers fans have already given up on the season. How can Newton renew faith in the Panthers organization? But most importantly, how can Newton win games.
Statistically, Newton has gone from a season of highs to a season of lows. This year, all four of Newton’s touchdown passes have been completed outside of the end zone. Newton is also 0-for-5 on throws into the end zone. And is one of two quarterbacks in the league without a completion on such throws. I’m sure wide receiver Steve Smith is a happy camper about this considering he hasn’t had a touchdown catch all season.
The good news—if this counts for anything—is that Newton has a chance to redeem himself against the Cowboys on Sunday if he and the Panthers can effectively utilize option plays. The Panthers used a form of the option on 23 rushes for 145 yards against the Saints. But, in their last four losses, the Panthers have used the option 37 times. The Panthers have averaged 5.4 yards per rush on such plays this season, compared to a 3.6 rate on non-option plays.
The Cowboys have not yet faced any option play this season which bodes well the Panthers. This is because most of the Panther’ rushing success this season on option plays has come outside the tackles. Averaging 8.3 yards on 24 rushing attempts outside the tackles on option plays this season, the Panthers are showing small, but significant, signs of life.
And even the Panthers are not able to lift themselves as a formidable wrecking unit, they can solace in the fact that Romo has thrown an interception in six straight games. Romo’s interceptions have been on shorter passes.
So what do the Panthers need to do Sunday to knock the life out of Romo and secure a win? Simple, play hard and run option plays. After all, this is one of the biggest games of the season. And wouldn’t we all like to see Newton’s sophomore slump gradually slipping away? Wouldn’t we all like to see the Panthers win another game before the season ends?
Beverly Vereen: Social Media Editor. Feature Writer. SportsAnalyst. Photographer. Publicist. And a Jack Daniels connoisseur. She graduated from the University of NorthCarolina and is a native of North Carolina. She currently resides in Charlotte. Follow her on twitter @iwritergirl. just click on button.