We are three games into the season and Cam Newton's play continues to be a shaky proposition.
In previous weeks, Newton's struggles were masked by victories and excused by crediting defenses. Sunday, however, there was no hiding Newton's troubles. He threw three interceptions and tossed for just 167 yards on 12-of-26 passing against a New Orleans Saints defense that heading into the weekend couldn't stop a Pop Warner squad.
"I put the defense in some screwed up situations and, in order for us to win, that can't happen," Newton said of his turnovers in the 34-13 loss, via the team's official website. "Trying to make a play and force things. Trying to find a spark. As you saw, that wasn't the way it went."
The Panthers entered the season hoping to adjust the offense to take some pressure off Newton with a short passing attack and limiting his runs. Thus far that plan has collapsed. Newton remains scattershot on both deep and short passes. On passes under 10 air yards Sunday, Newton completed 14-of-20 for 90 yards, two interceptions and a 39.6 passer rating, per Next Gen Stats.
Despite his struggles after offseason shoulder surgery, Newton insisted it wasn't time to sound the alarm.
"Moving forward, there is no need to panic," Newton said. "There is no need to rush. There is no need to be up in arms about the situation. Should you be frustrated as a fan? Absolutely. I am frustrated with my lackluster performance knowing that we are better than the performances we've been putting on the past couple of weeks.
"Be patient and know that big things are ahead for us. This year's Panthers team has big things to do."
To steal a line from Woody to Buzz Lightyear: This is the perfect time to panic. Cam seems lost. Greg Olsen is gone. Kelvin Benjamin got hurt again. The offensive line struggles to block. Outside of dinks to Christian McCaffrey, nothing is working and they head to New England next week to face Tom Brady.
At 2-1, the Panthers will remain in contention in the NFC, but if Newton and the offense don't turn it around quickly, they could be in for a free fall. Carolina's next three tilts (at New England, at Detroit, vs. Philadelphia) are all against teams that reside in the top 10 in scoring through three weeks.