The Carolina Panthers did not make the playoffs, however, a lot of progress was made this season. After starting off the season 2-8 through their first 10 contests, the Panthers came on strong going 5-1, to finish the season with a 7-9 record. A big reason for that run in the last 6 games was the maturation of QB Cam Newton. Cam Newton accumulated 1,474 YDS and 10 TDs with only 3 INTs during that stretch while also running for another 347 YDS and 4 TDs.
He seemed to have found his comfort level in the offense by the end of the season. Overall his 2012 numbers: 57.7% , 3,869 YDS , 19 TDS , 12 INT, 86.2 QBR with 741 rushing yards and 8 rushing TDs , were slightly down as compared to his numbers from his rookie campaign of 2011: 60.0% , 4051YDS, 21 TDS, 17 INTs with 706 rushing yards and 14 rushing TDs. However, when it was all said and done, you could see overall growth in his command of the offense.
However, going into the 2013 season, all this growth could become stunted. The worst thing that could have happened to Cam Newton and the Panthers came to pass when offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski was hired away from Carolina by the Cleveland Browns to become their head coach. Rob Chudzinski is the only offensive coordinator that Cam Newton had ever known in his brief NFL career.
Offensive Coordinator change is one of the worst things that can happen while grooming a young QB. It has been seen quite a few times. Take Mark Sanchez for example. He had been under the tutelage of Brian Schottenheimer for three seasons. In 2011, Sanchez posted the best QB stats in his short career, 56% , 3,474 YDS , 26 TDs , 18 INTs. The completion percentage left a little to be desired, but overall his other numbers were up from previous seasons due to playing in the same system.
In 2012 all the progress that Sanchez had made seemed to go down the drain. Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was replaced by former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano. There might have been other circumstances that contributed to Sanchez's regression but the change of offensive coordinator was a huge part. Mark Sanchez's stats plummeted to 54%, 2,883 YDS, 13TDs, 18 INTs. These numbers caused Sanchez to lose his starting job.
It seems to me that the worst thing that can happen to a young QB whether it is Mark Sanchez, Alex Smith, or Jason Campbell , is for them to lose the continuity and repetition of being in the same offensive system under the same coordinator. What seems to happen is that as soon as the QB starts to show signs of grasping what he is being taught, the rug gets pulled from under him and he has to learn a new system from a new voice.
Now, fortunately, for Cam Newton, he is much more talented than the quarterbacks mentioned. On the other hand, the fact of the matter was that these were three quarterbacks who may have had any progress they were making stunted by the constant changing of coordinators early in their career. Hopefully, Cam Newton will be an exception. It will definitely be something to look out for come the 2013 season.