Saints: Return of Cam Newton should scare NOLA this season
By Kristen Wong
Cam Newton is back, as he emphatically yelled after scoring a rushing touchdown on his first touch of the Carolina Panthers-Arizona Cardinals game
Any other year, the New Orleans Saints wouldn’t have given him another thought. This season, though, the Saints have extra reason to worry about the 2015 league MVP.
Yes, 2015 was more than half a decade ago, and Newton has never been known for his passing game. Even in 2015 when he won the MVP, Newton recorded a 59.8 percent pass completion rate, and his other passing stats leave much to be desired.
What the quarterback dynamo does bring to Carolina is one, a winning mentality, and two, an infectious positive energy that could turn the Panthers’ season around.
Currently, the Saints sit in the sixth playoff seed with Carolina right behind them in seventh. The 5-4 Saints also rank above the third-place Panthers in the NFC South despite falling to the Tennessee Titans in Week 10.
New Orleans’ last two losses might suggest the team is in dire need of a booster shot, while the Panthers’ recent upset over the Arizona Cardinals could be seen as the apex of their season.
Carolina couldn’t have acquired Newton at a better time.
Cam Newton breathes life into Carolina Panthers, breathes fire at New Orleans Saints
If all this sounds like we’re jealous of Carolina getting Newton, we’re not, we had our chance and Sean Payton made the right choice in not pursuing him.
But whereas Newton may not have fit in the Saints’ offensive scheme, he takes the field at Carolina as if he’s been playing there his entire career. Because he has.
His nearly decade-long career with the Panthers wasn’t defined by how many touchdowns he threw or how many times they went to the playoffs, but rather by his natural and dynamic leadership.
After losing five of their last six games, Carolina was looking for someone to lead this team. The straight-faced and mostly unimpressive Sam Darnold couldn’t rally the Panthers even during his 3-0 start, and backup QB P.J. Walker is just a backup.
In Week 10, Carolina needed some loosening up, and Newton did just that in getting the Panthers a pair of easy scores against the Cardinals. Newton was only featured in short-yardage plays in his re-debut, but he will be expected to know most of the offensive playbook when the Panthers face Washington in Week 11.
Carolina’s next three opponents (Washington (3-6), Miami Dolphins (3-7) and Atlanta Falcons (4-5)) all have losing records.
The Saints’ next three opponents include the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys, so they’ve got a much tougher schedule ahead of them.
With Cam Newton back, the Panthers could now turn the tides of the NFC South and seriously challenge New Orleans for a playoff spot. The Saints should be very scared indeed.