NFC South Top 25: No. 6

We continue my NFC South Top 25 with No. 6:

Cam Newton, quarterback, Panthers

What he did in 2012: Newton threw for 3,869 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also carried 127 times for a team-high 741 yards and eight touchdowns.

Why he’s No. 6 in 2013: A lot of people say Newton hit a sophomore slump. I don’t buy that. The team started badly and the Panthers weren’t using Newton properly. Their offense was out of sync the first half of the season. But the team changed things up in the second half of the season and went with a more conventional running game, which allowed Newton to focus on being a thrower. That worked well and the Panthers finished strong. Coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Mike Shula are well aware of how things improved in the second half of last season and it’s pretty obvious they’re planning on following that approach. The read option might be seen from time to time, but it’s not going to be the focal point of Carolina’s offense. That’s a good thing. Let DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart handle the running game. Let Newton be a quarterback. If used properly, he can be a very special quarterback.

For previous entries in the NFC South top 25, click here.