Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bucs must stop more efficient Newton

Cam Newton has been efficient and effective this season, taking what the defenses give him instead of taking over the game.


Cam Newton has been efficient and effective this season, taking what the defenses give him instead of taking over the game.

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said his parents had to be creative for his Thanksgiving feast, which had to be turkey-free.

Newton, 24, challenged himself in March by becoming a pescetarian, giving up all meat and animal flesh except fish. He likes how it makes him feel, including increased energy and alertness, though acknowledged he has been tempted.

"When I go around the guys or I go around a particular place and they have chicken wings, they have prime rib, they have steak, it's just something for me to pinch myself and challenge myself," Newton said. "I can put my mind to a lot of different things as well."

Newton's improved discipline isn't limited to his diet. He also has streamlined his play on the field, a big reason why the Panthers (9-3) are the hottest team in the league, winners of seven straight, heading into Sunday's home game against the Bucs. The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner from Auburn has shown the ability to do it all. The athletic dual threat took the NFL by storm as a rookie in 2011, capping touchdowns with a Superman pose celebration.

But after Newton struggled last season, he stopped trying to do too much, started trusting his sidekicks more. He has been efficient and effective, taking what defenses give him instead of trying to take over the game.

"He still runs. He still does all the things that make him exciting," Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. "But he doesn't force passes. He's doing all the things that winning quarterbacks do."

Newton's numbers don't jump off the page: 18th in passing yards (2,353), 16th in passer rating (88.3) and tied for 10th in touchdown passes (17). But he has completed a career-high 61.7 percent of his passes and thrown just nine interceptions.

Newton is elusive as ever and can still beat teams with his feet. He averages 4.9 yards per rush and had 50 yards and a touchdown in a 31-13 win over the Bucs on Oct. 24.

"He's really bought into being a true pocket passer," Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan said. "And he's more than talented to do anything offensively."

With the ninth-best running game in the league and third-best overall defense, Newton says the Panthers have bought into a "we" rather than "me" mentality.

"Obviously, over time, a player, a person, a human being will change their ways or upgrade to a degree. And I think that's what I've done," Newton said. "Coming in and having a different approach, and it's been showing come game day. But as far as me changing as a whole player, person, nothing's really changed. I still have the same aggressive mentality but also take what the defense gives me."

Newton set the bar high in winning the 2011 offensive rookie of the year award. He set an NFL record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (14) and became the first player to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. Carolina coach Ron Rivera said that created "unfair expectations," and Newton didn't handle them well, though it wasn't all his fault.

Still, after Carolina started 1-6 last season, Newton received much of the blame, even criticized — including by teammates — for his body language on the sideline.

Rivera said Newton learned to cope with it, matured and deve­loped. A winner in junior college and a BCS national champion with Auburn, Newton has now won 15 of his past 21 starts.

"Some people expect it to happen overnight, and that's not true," said Rivera, whose team won its final four games last season to finish 7-9. "Everyone is going through a developmental process. Last year, everyone was talking about (Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III). Now everybody's saying, 'Well, look at him now.' It takes time. Our guy took a little bit of time.

"Now look at him."

Bucs must stop more efficient Newton 11/29/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 29, 2013 9:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Pro Bowl returning to Orlando in 2018


    ORLANDO — The Pro Bowl will return to Orlando in 2018 for the second straight year.

    Bucs  wide receiver Mike Evans runs a route as Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. defends during the first quarter of the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in January at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]
  2. Erasmo Ramirez makes his third start of the season.
  3. If Tony Dungy sticks around, he'll broadcast the 2021 Tampa Super Bowl for NBC


    Lost in the Super Tuesday news of the Super Bowl coming back to Tampa was this nugget:

    Pictured, from left, Dan Patrick, co-Host, Tony Dungy, studio analyst, Aaron Rodgers. [Ben Cohen/NBC]
  4. Tragedy, tenacity helped shape Ridgewood valedictorian Johannah Cummines

    Volleyball Preps

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Even if her daily routine didn't permit calories to melt off, Johannah Cummines would deserve to pick anything on the menu.

    Ridgewood High senior Johannah Cummines and mom Chenell. Cummines is headed to Florida Atlantic, where she will play beach volleyball. (Photo courtesy of Johannah Cummines)
  5. Bucs Roberto Aguayo kicks off 2017 on the wrong foot


    The goal posts still seem to be moving for Roberto Aguayo.

    The Bucs woebegone place-kicker, who is in a battle with veteran Nick Folk, went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights, the first day of full squad Organized Team Activities.

    If that weren’t …

    Roberto Aguayo went 1-for-4 in field goal tries from 35-40 yards Tuesday on a set of narrow uprights.