The wheels totally came off for Carolina Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton on "Thursday Night Football" in Week 2, as the Panthers fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 20-14, at home, dropping to 0-2 on the season.
While he threw for 333 yards, Newton failed to score any type of touchdown for the second straight week, and he is now sitting at -2 rushing yards through two games.
The lack of rushing is alarming, yet not totally surprising for Newton, who may be attempting to be more of a pocket passer this season to avoid suffering another injury. The issue is, Cam's value as just a pure passing quarterback is not a recipe for fantasy success due to his wild inaccuracy so far this season, which may also be tied to a lingering shoulder condition.
Newton completed just 49 percent of his passes against the Bucs, which is alarming when you consider he finished with a career-best 67.9 completion percentage last season. Newton looked bad on several throws, especially when targeting Curtis Samuel.
In the second half, Newton threw behind Samuel on one play in the middle of the field and then missed him wide open in the end zone. Even on Newton's 44-yarder to Samuel in the first half, the pass was badly underthrown and could have resulted in a 75-yard TD had he hit his WR in stride.
On the bright side for Cam, his wide receivers were getting open at will. Samuel and second-year wideout D.J. Moore are both talented at creating separation. The duo can make Newton's job a lot easier by getting open in the short-to-intermediate parts of the field, and then doing the heavy lifting by adding yards after the catch. Along with all-purpose back Christian McCaffrey and the surprisingly still-nimble Greg Olsen at tight end, it's easy to argue that Newton has the best weapons of his career.
On the downside, Newton was getting very little help from his offensive line, as he took three sacks and had little time to throw during several drop backs. Still, as bad as the offensive line was, Newton was that much worse in his awareness, decision-making and accuracy. On his lone read-option attempt Thursday night, Newton coughed the ball up.
There is hope for Newton if can get some help from his offensive line and start connecting on throws to his talented receiving options, even if he mostly abandons the run this season. However, if the O-line issues and erratic passing persist, there is a chance that Cam's days as a fantasy stud, and even an NFL starting QB, may be nearing an end.
Newton draws a very favorable road matchup in Week 3 on the road against the Arizona Cardinals, so if he flops again, it may be time to pull the plug on him as a low-end starting QB in fantasy.
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