Bryan Strickland Senior Writer
CHARLOTTE – Panthers quarterback Cam Newton can’t help but think his play contributed to general manager Marty Hurney losing his job Monday.
“The coaches can coach us up however way they want to coach us up and give us the proper reads, but if it doesn’t show on Sunday, it comes down to the players. Each and every player, starting with myself, has to take that approach.”
Newton said the team as whole and he individually have fallen short of expectations – both internal and external – over the course of the Panthers’ 1-5 start, but he expects that to change, beginning with Sunday’s game at 5-1 Chicago.
“There are so many things we can point to. But it comes down not so much to leaders leading – we’re beyond that point – but it comes down to players having to play,” Newton said. “It’s not even a speech that has to be said. We’re all grown men. This is our job.
“I see guys putting in extra time with film, in the weight room and after practice, but sooner rather than later, it’s going to have to translate to playing the game on Sundays.”
Newton pointed to his own performance to date. The Panthers also started 1-5 last season, but this year the offense is producing about seven points less per game than it did through six games in 2011. Newton is averaging roughly a touchdown less through six games – a total of eight touchdown passes and runs versus 13 last year.
“Have we met our expectations? No. Me personally, have I met my expectations? No, I have not. Why is that? It’s been a lack of me getting the job done,” Newton said. “It’s not a one-man team, but there are things I go back and look at. My accuracy has to be better. My wherewithal with this offense has improved but still has to click on all cylinders.
“One of the things this organization strives toward is the motto, ‘Keep Pounding.’ In my position, that’s more mental than physical. I relate to ‘Keep Pounding’ as in, ‘OK, I just threw an incompletion. Now, how can I come back the next play and get this offense into a third-and-5 rather than a third-and-12?’ ”
As the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, Newton is putting added responsibility on his shoulders. Still, he knows he needs his teammates to help carry the load.
“I got a full dose of what this business is really like on Monday,” Newton said. “We have to take on that challenge and say, ‘It’s our fault that we’re not winning games.’
“Whatever the coaches say, if you intercept the ball or if you throw a touchdown, then we make them right.”