Photo via Bob Leverone/ AP Photo
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will undergo rotator cuff surgery on March 30, and is expected to miss all offseason activities, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Due to Newton’s recent injuries, his future might be in jeopardy. Not in jeopardy of being able to make it out on the field, but in jeopardy of us returning to his former MVP self.
Here are a few reasons why Cam will never be the same.
1. Cam’s style of play
Cam Newton is a dual-threat quarterback. He doesn’t just run as a last resort, it’s a staple of his game. He’s averaged 7.4 carries per game during his six-year career.
Carolina is the only team in the league that consistently runs the power run scheme with their quarterback. Newton, who is built like a defensive end at 6-5, 245 lbs, is extremely effective in short yardage situations.
The history of dual-threat quarterbacks is not great. They may explode onto the scene, but their greatness doesn’t last.
For example, Robert Griffin III had an incredible rookie season, going 10-6 and making the playoffs. However, his running style caught up to him, when he tore his ACL in the first round of the playoffs. He hasn’t been the same since.
Michael Vick only played in 16 games once in his NFL career. Vick fractured a fibula in 2003, but recovered and was relatively healthy for the three seasons prior to his prison sentence. Then after his return, the tread on his tires caught up to him; he never played more than 13 games after his return.
Tennesse Titans QB Marcus Mariota has struggled to stay healthy in his first two seasons. His first season ended with sprained ligaments in his knee, and this past season ended with a broken fibula.
Even quarterbacks like Andrew Luck and Russell Wilson, who only run on occasion, have struggled to stay healthy.
There is no proven path for dual-threat quarterbacks to stay healthy. Cam’s big frame might help him last longer, but it’s only a matter of time until the many hits catch up with him.
2. Cam’s injury history
Newton has 689 career rushes and has been sacked 221 times in just six seasons. This doesn’t account for times where he’s been hit, but not sacked. Therefore, in his brief career, he’s been hit around 1,000 times.
As I mentioned, Newton has to get surgery on March 30, on a torn rotator cuff. Newton has also sustained three separate ankle injuries that have forced him to miss significant time resting or getting surgery.
Newton also broke his ribs in a 2014 car crash and suffered a concussion last season in addition to his shoulder injury.
Finally, Newton had a back injury in 2014 that forced him to miss one game.
His injuries have been relatively minor, until this shoulder surgery. He has played in 16 games all but twice, and those two seasons he played in 14 and 15 games.
Newton has been the most durable dual threat quarterback to date, but history shows that his prior injuries are going to catch up to him.
3. Rivera limiting Cam’s potential
Panthers coach Ron Rivera wants to limit Newton’s carries going forward, according to the NFL Network’s Kevin Patra.
Newton could struggle if his carries are limited. There is no doubt he’s at his best when he has the threat of running. Furthermore, when Newton runs in the red zone, he is almost impossible to stop.
With almost every other dual threat quarterback in the league, at some point the head coach realizes he needs his quarterback to stay healthy and cuts back on their involvement in the running game.
It is tough to say how reduced carries will impact Newton, but history hasn’t been kind to dual-threat quarterbacks. As soon as former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh cut back on QB Colin Kaepernick’s runs, he went from a good QB to one without an NFL job.
After his ACL injury limited his running game, Robert Griffin III is a mediocre quarterback at best.
Russell Wilson’s play took a hit after his ankle injury this past season limited his mobility.
Coaches tried to limit how many times Michael Vick ran, just like most dual-threat quarterbacks before him. However, these quarterbacks either get figured out by the league (teams learn to game plan effectively against them) or they’re taken out of the league by injury.
After Newton’s disappointing 2016-2017 season, he looks like he could be heading toward the inevitable downfall of a running quarterback.
I sincerely hope that Newton doesn’t suffer the same fate, but history says otherwise.
MMQB’s Peter King agrees, with this article from 2014, that teams are scared to take mobile quarterbacks because of the recent history of Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RGIII and Russell Wilson.