The Carolina Panthers have gotten off to a fast start to begin the 2015 National Football League season. Before their week five contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina had three wins without a defeat. Due to the fast start and leadership of their quarterback, Cam Newton is already being thrown into the conversation for the league’s most valuable player in this early 2015 season.
Newton’s 2015 statistics before playing Tampa Bay featured 685 passing yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. The two-time Pro Bowler has also rushed for 144 yards and two touchdowns going into the game. While the talk has been heating up since September, for most fans who do not follow the team closely, Newton should have been a MVP candidate many seasons before this one.
Since entering the league as the team’s number one overall pick in 2011, Newton has broken a number of records and has compiled statistics of a historical pace in his first five seasons for the Panthers. What makes him so much more special than other quarterbacks is that, not only is he one of the biggest and most physical passers in the game, but with his speed and strength, he is as likely to run over defenders as he is able to throw a 50-yard pickup.
Newton should have been in the MVP race in his first three seasons, as he has compiled 64 passing touchdowns and 28 rushing touchdowns in his young career.
Newton has passed for 11,299 yards and rushed for 2,032 yards so far, making him the first player in NFL history to reach over 10,000 passing yards and over 1,000 rushing yards in his first three seasons. Also, Newton was the first player in NFL History with 50 passing touchdowns and 25 rushing touchdowns in his first three seasons.
On the team front, Newton has also lead the Panthers to two consecutive NFC South titles and helped the team become the first in division history to win back-to-back division titles.
While Newton has had the numbers and talent to be mentioned in MVP-talk in previous seasons, because of what he has to work with this season, this is the first season where the talk is actually serious.
Newton lost his primary wide receiver, second-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin in the preseason due to a torn ACL. With Benjamin out, the team lost about 70 percent of its offensive production. Benjamin, in his rookie season, compiled 73 catches for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns.
Newton now has to rely on less-talented starters, such as Ted Ginn Jr. and second year receiver, Philly Brown. His most reliable receiver is also aging veteran, Jerricho Cotchery. Newton has still managed to rack up yards and touchdowns with the lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Most of the yards that Newton has so far this season is because of tight end Greg Olsen who is his primary target in the passing game. Olsen, through the first three games of the season, has 15 catches for 215 and two touchdowns, leading all receivers.
Besides his talent, what is making Newton so dangerous on the ground this year is the Panthers revamped offensive line, which is anchored by veterans Michael Oher and Ryan Kalil. The linemen up front are giving Newton a ton of time in the pocket to decide whether to run or throw. The elite defense also helps Newton by lowering the number points opposing team’s score.
With all those pieces working together as a unit, Cam Newton’s statistics will continue to grow and better his chances of becoming the 2015 NFL MVP.
However, there are still some that say that Newton should not be in the MVP talks. This is largely due to the widely-considered top caliber passers who are still putting up big numbers to begin the season. These names feature the usual suspects such as Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.
Though Newton cannot be compared to them in statistics, he still is more talented than nearly every passer in the league. The early success this season might be just the tip of the iceberg for Cam Newton as he will continue to improve and enters the prime of his career. Though it is early, Newton achieving MVP honors at the end of the 2015 season would not shock me.