So it appears I may have been wrong about Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera's decision to start Cam Newton. Cam Newton did just about everything right in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals except win. Newton ended the day 24 for 37 with 422 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Newton also had 18 yards rushing and a touchdown.
I don't know how Carolina lost this game. Offensively, the Panthers played better. The only clear advantage the Cardinals had were fewer penalties and better special teams. Special teams is what won the game. The number five overall pick out of LSU, rookie Patrick Peterson, returned a punt for 89 yards to give the Cardinals a lead they would not relinquish.
I can see Cam Newton's career going one of three ways.
- He ends up being one of the all time greats, like a Michael Jordan for basketball or Wayne Gretzky for hockey.
- He struggles to stay consistent on his way to an average career (with a chance at a Super Bowl), like a Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson.
- He has a great career as an individual player, but never gets a Super Bowl ring, like a Dan Marino.
If I were a betting man, I would choose number 3. He has a strong arm and seems to be very intuitive, but I do not see the leadership skills it takes to win a championship. One of the main reasons he performed so well yesterday was the leadership shown by veteran wide receiver Steve Smith who had 8 catches for 178 yards and two scores.