Carolina Panthers: Despite Setbacks, Cam Newton Has Panthers On Par With 2015 Season [Opinion]

The Carolina Panthers have started the season with more losses in 2017 than they did in 2015. But, this current Panthers team has a similar feel to that 15-1 magical season according to ESPN. Cam Newton is not in MVP talks as of yet, but by the end of the season, he could be. The Panthers are 7-3 heading into their much-needed bye week and leading the way has been the leadership of Cam Newton.

Think back to that outstanding 15-1 regular season the Panthers had in 2015 for a moment. Newton was the best in the NFL with 3837 yards passing, 35 passing touchdowns and another 10 on the ground to go with 636 rushing yards. Newton clearly deserved that MVP. While this season has been full of injuries, disappointing moments and out-of-nowhere roster moves, the Panthers are still marching to their own beat.

At 7-3, the Panthers are sitting a half-game behind the New Orleans Saints in the NFC South and two games in front of the Atlanta Falcons. But, a closer look will show why the Saints and the rest of the NFC better take notice of Newton and Co. In their run in 2015, the Panthers played four teams who would go on to qualify for the playoffs. So far this season, the Panthers have played six teams with a winning record while winning four.

That stat alone is further proof of how resilient the Panthers are. But wait, there’s more.

Regarding Newton, he may not have the same numbers of 2015 but who’s to say he can’t get there? Cam has already racked up 2232 yards passing and 14 touchdowns, but has thrown 11 interceptions compared to just 10 in 2015. While his numbers may not equal those of his MVP season, what matters is Newton leading the Panthers back to the Super Bowl.

Cam Newton is back having fun on the field despite issues he has faced off it, trades, injuries and implementing new weapons to the offense. With Greg Olson out, Newton has had to rely on rookie running back Christian McCaffrey more than he may have wanted to in the passing game. McCaffrey, despite his rookie status, has responded with 57 catches for 433 yards and three touchdowns. What was sure to have the Panthers offense struggling was the loss of Kelvin Benjamin. However, Newton has played surprisingly well since the trade.

With no Benjamin, Newton has looked elsewhere and found production in the unlikeliest of places. Devin Funchess has stepped up along with Curtis Samuel but it has been the legs of Cam that has provided the lift for the offense. Newton has rushed for 181 yards and one touchdown over that two-week span since the Benjamin trade.

As much as the critics love to throw Newton under the bus for his accuracy (lack of), he’s on pace to have the best completion percentage of his career this season. During his MVP run in 2015, Newton completed 59.8 percent of his passes, but in 2017, he’s up to 62.1. While the focus has been on the negatives, all Newton has done is improve and has put the Panthers in place for a Super Bowl run.

Although MVP might be out of reach this year, Newton has shown yet again, how valuable of a leader he is when his back is against a wall.

[Featured Image by Grant Halverson/Getty Images]