Newton plans to tackle adversity head on
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has a plan to become a better leader: He intends to keep his frustrations in check because in the past they have been a distraction to his teammates.
Newton took mistakes hard, his competitive drive leading to him getting down on himself — during and after games.
He told The Associated Press, “Oh man, I had it bad. I still do have it to some degree.”
But Newton says with the help of his coaches he’s getting better.
He’s changing his approach, and his new motto is: “Next play.”
Newton finished 8 of 17 passing for 112 yards in playing the first half of Thursday night’s 14-9 preseason loss to the Eagles.
Michael Vick and Nick Foles each led the Eagles on touchdown drives in the win.
The third-year pro Newton has put up record-setting numbers, but said he’s learned the public sulking that has plagued him — and drawn much criticism — “can be a turnoff” and isn’t helping the team.
The Panthers are 13-19 in his two seasons, and just 2-12 in games decided by seven points or less.
However, the 6-foot-5, 243-pound signal-caller and his teammates believe late last season he improved dramatically when it came to controlling his emotions and the Panthers won five or their last six games.
“There are times when I am worried about the play where I overthrew (Steve Smith) — and now it is three plays later,” Newton said. “If I let that affect me the next ball is not going to be complete or it might be intercepted. It’s like a snowball effect. For me it’s about moving on and understanding that mistakes are going to happen. But you have to bounce back and make the most of each and every play.”
Too often Newton said he didn’t do that — or at least didn’t do it quick enough.
“I’ve learned that it needs to be, ‘Hey Cam, let’s put all of that aside and let’s go make plays and win us a football game,’” Newton said. “But my turnover has to be quicker so I get by it mentally and say, ‘Hey I messed up, but now is not the time, nor the place to let it get me down.’”
Newton said offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterbacks coach Ken Dorsey have helped him work through that.
Newton called Shula a “perfect fit” for him as his offensive coordinator and called him a father figure. Shula has a calm demeanor that seems to mesh with Newton’s highly competitive, intense nature.
Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman recently said Newton — and the Panthers — need to start winning more games, but believes he’s the player Carolina can build a franchise around.
Newton said his goal is to help the Panthers reach the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and become a consistent playoff contender. He believes this year’s team has the talent to reach the postseason after going 6-10 in 2012 and 7-9 last year.