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October 26, 2011

Merril Hoge: Cam Newton has been 'mind-boggling'

Merril Hoge, like a lot of people, admits he was wrong about Cam Newton.

The ESPN analyst was among those who questioned whether Newton was ready for the NFL after playing in a spread offense in his only season at Auburn.

But seven games into his pro career, Newton ranks fourth in the NFL in passing yards behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. And after completing 42 percent of his passes in the preseason, Newton has completed 60.3 percent of his passes in the regular season.

"It's been mind-boggling. I'm sitting here watching him right now," Hoge said, who was reviewing the Panthers-Redskins game this afternoon.

Hoge said he has been most impressed with Newton's willingness to stay in the pocket and go through his pass progressions rather than taking off running at the first opportunity.

Hoge never doubted Newton's arm strength, but wasn't sure he could harness it.

"His accuracy has gotten better from preseason to now. Preseason, he was really off. He was all over the place," Hoge said. "But just week after week, he's gotten better and better and better."

Hoge also marveled at the job Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski has done, calling him the league's "offensive coordinator of the year" at this point.

"I watch tape on everybody. He has more people wide open. His design and route combination -- and now they've got this (shot)gun run they use," Hoge said. "They've got so much you have to prepare for. It's freakin' overload for a defense. It's tough."

Hoge called Panthers (2-5) one of the league's scariest teams.

"This a team that can make a run," Hoge said.

Playoff run?

"Yes, I think they can make a run like that."

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on October 26, 2011 at 12:54 PM | Permalink


If the defense can find a way to become stout against the run and force mulptiple turnovers, the sky's the elimit for this team. There's not a game left on our schedule that's not winnable. Our offense has been good enough to win pretty much every game, it's been our defense and special teams that have let us down. If we can win this week, look for the Panthers to make a run after the bye week!

Posted by: jrguyiii | Oct 26, 2011 1:18:44 PM

It's just incredible to see how quickly this young man is learning how to play QB in the NFL. I was a Newton supporter before the draft when I discovered he wasn't the bad egg many were calling him, but even I didn't expect him play even this well for a couple of years. He didn't have a clue when this year began how to run an NFL offense, all the prep he did with Whitfield, Weinke, and others obviously paid off big time, talk about a quick study!

Folks do you realize he is basically carrying this team right now? Yeah Smitty and others are making plays, but who is delivering that ball? Think about where he will be when he actually figures out what he's doing and it becomes automatic like Rodgers, Brady, Manning. He could be scary good, and that something Panthers' fans should be really excited about. Can't wait for the haters comments below, now be creative guys! ;)

Posted by: Joe F. | Oct 26, 2011 1:23:56 PM

if you want to crown his A crown it!

Posted by: vivian | Oct 26, 2011 1:29:15 PM

i give credit to the whole team and coaching staff.

fox would've stifled cam and this team. Rivera and Chud are using every player on offense with Cam.

I won't say we are great, we need better D for sure. I like where we are headed, I won't get too excited, but I am happy with where the cats are headed.

Posted by: superman | Oct 26, 2011 1:32:19 PM

defense is not good enough to make a run...cats are exciting, but lets be honest...we kinda want them to lose this year. we aren't going to the playoffs so lets get a freak in the draft.

Posted by: NORTH SUCKS | Oct 26, 2011 1:41:26 PM

I was also a skeptic, but we have to look back to last year. He was a first year started in Div. 1 and ran through the gauntlet. And I don't mean the Big East or ACC gauntlet, he ran through some very good SEC teams. When they stopped his run, he beat them with the pass. This was as a first year starter. It was not luck, since it was happening week after week. He didn't play so good against Oregon on the big stage, but it was his first year to play big college football... He is obviously a phenomenal athlete.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 26, 2011 1:45:47 PM

I am glad to see this. Hoge was very critical of Cam, so I respect him for owning up to that poor assessment.

I am trying to curb my ethusiasm, but having a hard time not getting excited. I can't wait for Sunday at 1:00!

Posted by: Cat Man's friend | Oct 26, 2011 2:02:26 PM

Make a playoff run? Possibly, if the D can get their act together

But as for Cam, I'll admit I was on the fence when he was picked. It woulda been a nightmare if Fox was still in control but Chud knows what he's doing and Rivera knew what he was doing when he picked him to lead the offense.

The team is revitalized right now. No matter the outcome, its turning out to be a very good season. Next year will be a scary good one!

Posted by: TJ | Oct 26, 2011 2:04:34 PM

Cam's the next superstar. So many people were wrong about him because there's never been a quarterback like this in the NFL.

Only thing is, this team has to get it done before Cam's contract is up. It will be tough to keep him here unless they win a title within this 4 year window. Just sayin'. Cam and Luck (maybe) are the Brady/Manning over the next decade.

Sooner problem, though: Every coachless team in the NFL will be after Chud even before the season is over. I hope we can keep him. (Stay here and win a ring with us, Chud!)

Posted by: Scottinca | Oct 26, 2011 2:10:33 PM

Chud deserves a lot of credit, but don't forget the job Mike Shula has done with Cam. He has tutored Cam for all of 2 months, and look at the progress already. I honestly would be more nervous about losing Shula during these first few years than Chud.

Posted by: Joe F. | Oct 26, 2011 2:24:16 PM

I was a Cam hater at first, but he has won me over.

I'll be wearing a superman cape at the next game, consider joining me.

Scotty Dupree

Posted by: Scott Dupree | Oct 26, 2011 2:28:48 PM


I think I will wear a cape. panther blue cape baby!

Posted by: Tyrone | Oct 26, 2011 2:33:19 PM

Not too much of a peep from the regular analysts on the NFL Network like Lombardi and Billick and Casserly (who I guess is no longer at NFL Network). Oh how not only would they not take Cam with the first pick, they wouldn't take him in the first round or the second round. Mark Mayock and Mel Kiper while they may have ended up predicting the Panthers would pick Newton number one, they highly advised against it...and said he wasnt even the fifth best QB in the draft, let alone a franchise QB. Who knows what the future will bring but he has done OK. I mean would you rather have Romo here? Dalton has played great and we'll see about Ponder, Gabbert, and Locker...

I think there is an intentional smear and promoting campaign that goes on mainly driven by agents. If I am Gabberts agent then I want him pick as high as possible which equals bigger contract which equals bigger agent's cut...so I am going to get my paid shills like Kiper and Mayock and the guy from Pro Football Weekly to say Gabbert is great and Cam is terrible and a criminal and has a fake smile, etc...

Posted by: McFootball | Oct 26, 2011 2:44:55 PM

I am just glad Fox is not here, he would have Cam on the bench starting Clausen saying "he gives us the best chance to win".
This team makes football on Sundays fun again.

Posted by: Bill W | Oct 26, 2011 2:50:19 PM

I love this. I'd like to see Mayock suit up and stand on the goal line and let Cam get about 5 yards back and then let Mayock "feel" if Cam has it or not.

April 2011 PFT on MSNBC: If Carolina does take him, Mayock worries about Newton’s drive.

“It’s just this gut feeling I have: I don’t know how great he wants to be,” Mayock said on the Dan Patrick Show Monday. ”He’s got all the tools. Mechanically, he’s way beyond where Tim Tebow and Vince Young were as college quarterbacks. . . . He’s got everything on the physical side.”

Mayock just isn’t convinced Newton’s drive to be the best quarterback in the game.

“Something tells me that he’ll be content to be a multimillionaire who’s pretty good,” Mayock said. ”And doesn’t get it done for me.”

While admitting Newton has handled the pre-draft process well, it’s telling that a final evaluation of Newton (and others) often comes down to a gut feeling, even for the best draft analysts and decision makers. And Mayock just isn’t feeling Newton.

“I think the kid is smart enough. I just don’t know if he cares enough,” Mayock said. ”And I don’t know how you qualify that either. The kid has done everything right.”

Posted by: McFootball | Oct 26, 2011 2:50:24 PM

So there have been so many wrong analyst, opinionist, and haters as well as fans. I always thought he was going to be a good player even through preseason. Cmon people were they really going to release all of the goodies in preseason. Please!!!! The has exceeded my expectations and then some.The haters have been hit hard with the gimmicky jokes and laptop things because of their own problems in their life. He has risen above critics and boy soon like next year or so he will have taken his skill set to another level. Everybody still screaming Luck!!!

Posted by: tbird | Oct 26, 2011 2:53:39 PM




Posted by: JimMora | Oct 26, 2011 2:54:33 PM

Hoge was adament about how Cam was going to fail miserably in the NFL. Crow must be awfully tasty.

Posted by: Brian | Oct 26, 2011 2:58:39 PM

I'll put a cape on and jump off the stadium if this team makes the playoffs.

lets be realistic people.

I wasn't a cam fan, but liking what I see. I still maintain that he has shrek ears.

Posted by: voice of reality | Oct 26, 2011 3:00:09 PM

Ultimately, it's all about entertainment, so as long as I'm entertained (and Newton is very entertaining!), I'm happy regardless of W/L.

Posted by: Sports Phan | Oct 26, 2011 3:31:19 PM

How bad do you think Newton would have done in a John Fox offense?

Posted by: Nosebleed Fan | Oct 26, 2011 3:56:28 PM

I'm thinking Steve Smith is on the Cam Wagon about now, well since he is having a huge stats year so far. Instead of the 2 yard Delhomme pass that Smitty would run for 60 more yards, Smitty is getting to run down field now before catching the ball...

Posted by: McFootball | Oct 26, 2011 3:56:33 PM

Can't be more excited about this team!! BUT Fans we gotta step it up!! Attendance at the games are patheitc! Where's the 60,000 PSL owners? Geesh!

Cam is Superman and we gotta give him a reason to stay here for his entire career.

Get off ur butts and get to the stadium on Sundays!

Posted by: DieHardCat | Oct 26, 2011 3:58:12 PM

I liked Cam from the start.It is not so amazing. All the doubters forgot he was smart as well athletic.

Posted by: thomas lewis | Oct 26, 2011 4:09:57 PM

Go ahead and give Cam a MASSIVE 7 year extension after this year...lock him up

Posted by: Matt | Oct 26, 2011 4:15:16 PM

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