In his first two NFL seasons, Cam Newton feasted on opposing defenses, combining for over 7,300 passing yards, 40 passing touchdowns and 22 rushing scores.
Things seemed to be gravy on the surface. Below it? Not so much.
In a radio interview with former Panthers general manager Marty Hurney on ESPN 730, Newton revealed he was “always” scrapping with then-offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski, who evidently overcomplicated things for the young quarterback.
“It was too much. ‘Y’all putting in too many plays. We only can run one play!’” Newton recalled saying, per Black And Blue Review. “Me and coach Chudzinski were always butting heads with the workload because I came from a system that was look to the sideline and play — fast. Make plays.”
Newton jumped from a simplistic system at Auburn into a complex quandary under Chudzinski. That, he says, led to a disconnect between player and coach.
“It kind of was a learning curve, especially when you was here, with having (former offensive coordinator) coach (Rob) Chudzinski,” Newton told Hurney. “He opened the floodgates with material right from the jump. I didn’t like it then because coming from a hand signal philosophy from Auburn, it was kind of force-feeding a kid with carrots. I didn’t want to learn it, and I was always trying to complain about the workload.”
Last offseason, Chudzinski bolted to become the Browns’ head coach, with the Panthers promoting Mike Shula as his successor. Newton, despite his total yardage output dipping a bit, set career highs in completion percentage (61.7) and passing TDs (24) in 2013, leading the team to a 12-4 record and NFC South title.
It’s been noted that Shula tweaked — not overhauled — Chud’s scheme, likely cutting down on the verbiage to make it more “conventional.” The results were impressively noticeable; the Panthers were among the league leaders in ball security, third- and fourth-down conversions, and game-winning drives.
If Newton continues to ascend in 2014 — the first year he’s eligible for a new contract — Carolina’s changing of play-callers could go down as a career-defining milestone.
(Photo credit: Jeff Siner/Getty Images)
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