It’s hard to believe that a team as young and as talented as Carolina could go from the Super Bowl one year to 1-5 the next, but that is where the Panthers find themselves. And as much as Cam Newton doesn’t want to look in the mirror for what has happened to his team, he needs to.
“I think Cam Newton pouting has a lot to do with it,” former Panther and current WFNZ host Frank Garcia said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “There’s a lot of factors that go into what is making this team struggle, and I think there’s just been a lot of complacency with this team this year. We’ve seen over and over again the press conferences. And it’s not about the press conference, but it’s about the mentality of being able to tell guys things and them being able to learn from their mistakes. In the Super Bowl last year, I think he realized he didn’t handle himself professionally. I even made the argument for him, ‘Okay, that’s the biggest loss of his career. You can understand that.’ But he expected to learn from that, and so did we. We expected him to learn from those things and you just kind of see a pattern developing throughout his career. When things aren’t going well, he’s going to be frustrated. There’s a difference between being frustrated and disappointed. Frustration comes from anger and from a lot of different places. You’re blaming other people. You’re not taking the onus on yourself. And as a leader, you have to be able to take that and say, ‘This is my fault. I’m responsible as the leader for this team.’ Show me a good Super Bowl team or a team that’s had consistent success and doesn’t have their quarterback as maybe the guy that’s going to take the brunt of things when they’re bad and deflect when they’re good. Those are the type of things that I just think have been consistent with Cam, and I think guys get frustrated by that.”
Garcia recently discussed Newton with offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, who played for the Panthers from 2008-11.
It wasn’t positive.
“We’re sitting here – two guys who defend quarterbacks for a living – and we’re sitting here kind of attacking Cam for his behavior and not being approachable,” Garcia said. “If you’re not approachable with the media, if you’re not approachable with those types of things, what makes you think the coach or some players are going to be able to approach him when things are going bad as well, and where’s he going to learn? Those are the things I’m talking about with Cam and him pouting. You’re not going to get better if you’re sitting there pouting. It’s time to mature, it’s time to grow up, you have a couple of kids, you’ve been in the NFL going on six years now, and it’s time to be the leader of this team if you’re going to have some consistent success.”
The Panthers, who have a bye this week, host Arizona (3-3) on Oct. 30 at 1 p.m. ET. They also have upcoming games at Los Angeles (3-3), against Kansas City (3-2), against New Orleans (2-3), at Oakland (4-2) and at Seattle (4-1), among others.
“I’d be happy to see five wins right now,” Garcia said. “I don’t see this getting much better. You look at the schedule ahead, there’s some teams playing pretty well. Maybe this bye week will do the Panthers some good, but give me a couple more wins and I’ll take it right now. I just don’t see a lot of this cultural thing getting better with the inner workings of this locker room. There’s a lot of turmoil, and I just don’t know if those things get corrected overnight.”