Last week, much was made of the punishment that Cam Newton took in Carolina’s 21-20 loss at Denver. Newton took numerous shots – some of which seemed excessive or unnecessary – but the flags didn’t come as often as the Panthers would have liked.
“It’s frustrating,” Panthers All-Pro center Ryan Kalil said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “I didn’t know how much of that was going on while I was playing the game because I was too busy trying to block some of those dominant guys upfront. But after seeing it, they definitely missed a few calls. It’s tough. I think Cam, he’s such an interesting athlete at his position that I think a lot of times people forget that even though he’s sort of this dominating, running, sort of big heavy ball player that he’s also a quarterback and that we got to treat him that way and protect him that way. But it’s happened before, and hopefully going forward they can do a better job of protecting him a little bit better.”
Indeed, Newton is perhaps the most physically gifted quarterback in the league. In fact, he’s one of the most physically gifted players in the league. At 6-5, 245 pounds, he’s essentially a tight end in a quarterback’s body.
While Newton’s physicality is one of his greatest assets, it’s also one of his greatest liabilities – at least in terms of drawing penalties.
“It’s sort of the stigma of what he’s capable of doing as a running quarterback,” Kalil said. “Cam is somebody who, he’s a phenomenal passer, and I’d put him up there with the best of them (in terms of) sitting there in the pocket and throwing. But there’s this other aspect of him that we utilize in our offense where there’s plays designed for him to run the ball. There’s draws for him, there’s zone plays for him, there’s read-option plays for him, there’s power plays for him – he gets the ball and he runs, and when he runs, he’s putting his shoulder down like a running back. He’s trying to shed blocks and he gets up and he celebrates and throws a first-down marker there. So I think the problem is that sometimes everyone kind of forgets that just because he’s doing that, he’s still a quarterback. When he’s in the pocket, there’s a big difference between him running and putting his head down and running like a runner and sitting in a pocket and throwing the ball and taking five shots to his rib and head.”
Kalil, who recently co-authored his first book, “The Rookie Handbook: How to Survive the First Season in the NFL,” hopes that the Panthers can recapture the magic of last season.
“It felt like that early on and then I think when you kind of capture that, it just snowballs throughout the rest of the year,” he said. “The more games we were winning obviously the higher the stakes, but it just also felt more special with each and every week, and so each and every week it didn’t feel like ‘Uh, six more game until postseason.’ It just really felt like a group that was staying in the moment, staying in the now and just couldn’t wait for that next Sunday to just keep on this trek that we were on. So my biggest hope for this season is that we can recapture that and not dwell on what happened last year and how we couldn’t finish it out in that big game, but to try to recapture that sense. I think for the most part we kept the band together. There’s some new young guys with some pretty important positions. So it’ll be interesting to see how they grow the more games they get under their belt. But for the most part, I feel like we have a lot of that intact and hopefully we can kind of recapture that as the season goes on.”