Norv Turner is playing a dangerous game with Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers

Norv Turner’s plan to eliminate Cam Newton’s bad games sounds great in theory, but the Panthers can’t afford to rein their quarterback in too much.

When he’s on top of his game, Cam Newton is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in football. There’s a reason he was able to win the MVP Award back in 2015. The challenge for Norv Turner as the team’s new offensive coordinator, is to eliminate the bad games that have plagued Newton over the past few years.

On the surface, that sounds like a relatively easy proposition. The Panthers have made clear moves this offseason to give Newton more receiving weapons than ever before. D.J. Moore was selected in the first round of the draft to challenge Devin Funchess to see who can become the team’s No. 1 wide receiver. No matter who wins that battle, Newton should enjoy the best starting receiving pairing of his career.

Of course, he also has a healthy Greg Olsen coming back into the fold. The tight end missed a big chunk of games last season which clearly hampered Newton’s effectiveness. He, along with second year running back Christian McCaffrey give the Panthers signal caller dynamic players to throw to underneath. Roster additions aren’t the only thing the franchise changed to support their quarterback this offseason.

The biggest change for Newton may be the hiring of Turner as his offensive coordinator. Will all due respect to Mike Shula, this represents a pretty significant upgrade. In particular, Turner believes it’s his job to “eliminate the peaks and valleys” in Newton’s game. He’s only half right in that assessment.

Trying to eliminate Newton’s bad games is certainly a worthwhile endeavor. When you watch his tape from last season he clearly tries to take over games too often. Some of that is related to the lack of offensive talent around him, but a significant portion can also be chalked up to the vanilla scheme implemented by Shula.

You can expect Shula to make the offense more complicated, but to also give Newton more safe throws at the same time. The Panthers coaching staff wants to increase their quarterback’s completion percentage and lower the hits he’s forced to take. That means the Panthers will utilize more short, quick throws.

That’s all well and good, but Shula can’t take things too far. Newton is at his best when he’s able to get out on the edge and make things happen with his feet. Turner can’t afford to keep his franchise quarterback trapped in the pocket. Doing so will eliminate much of what makes Newton great when he is at his best.

The good news here is that Turner is not averse to throwing the ball down the field. His scheme may actually increase the rate in which Newton has time to use his strong arm to find receivers deep down the field. In that way, Turner’s offensive scheme may actually increase the peaks in Newton’s game.

The key for Turner in all of this is to exercise moderation. Reining in Newton a little bit can pay big dividends for the Panthers, but shackling his ability to make plays could ruin the team’s offense. Finding the middle ground will be the key to getting the Panthers deep into the playoffs.

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