Does the blame fall on Cam Newton?

Take a look at this cartoon from The Charlotte Observer’s Kevin Siers that mocks Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, who, at times, has portrayed himself as Superman.

Harsh? Surprising for a guy who seemed to capture all of the Carolinas during his rookie campaign last year?

Well, it’s the nature of the business. I lived in Charlotte for almost nine years and will say people in the region are prone to knee-jerk reactions. But, come to think of it, people are prone to knee-jerk reactions wherever and whenever it comes to an NFL team.

The Panthers are 1-2. Newton is an NFL quarterback, so he’s going to get the blame when things don’t go well. It’s just the way things work.

But what’s the real reason for Carolina’s disappointing start?

There are different schools of thought. Take a look at the ESPN Stats & Information blog post in which John Parolin and Mike Landrigan debate that question.

Parolin points the blame straight at Newton. He points to the quarterback’s five interceptions, with one coming every 16.6 attempts. He also points to Newton’s 38.9 completion percentage on third down, and he points to Newton’s poor performance in the red zone.

All valid points.

Landrigan, however, says Newton doesn’t deserve the blame. He writes that it should fall on the defense. He points to a run defense that ranks No. 27. He also points out the defense has forced only two turnovers. He also writes that the defense isn’t stopping opponents on third down and that’s why the Panthers rank near the bottom of the league in time of possession.

Those are valid points, too.

So where do I fall on this debate? Somewhere in between. I agree with Parolin that Newton hasn’t played as well as I expected. However, I’m leaning more toward Landrigan’s argument. I think Carolina’s defense, which got several key players back from injury and added some new components in the offseason, has been the bigger disappointment.

What do you think? Cast your vote in the SportsNation poll and then back up your ballot with your thoughts in the comments section below.