Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers in year 2:
Cam Newton in year 2 vs. year 1
Cam Newton held the record for the most combined touchdowns by a rookie quarterback before Justin Herbert broke it in 2020. Newton threw for 21 touchdowns in 2011 but ran for 14, which ended up being a career-high for the Aurburn quarterback.
We got an early indication of the type of quarterback Cam was going to be at the NFL level. On top of his 14 touchdowns, Cam rushed for 706 yards on 126 attempts. That, combined with 4,051 passing yards, made for quite the rookie season.
Cam got slightly worse in his second season. His interceptions went down from 17 to 12 but so did all of his other numbers. He threw for 182 fewer yards, two fewer touchdowns and had a completion rate that was 2.3% lower.
He did carry the ball for 35 more yards in one more attempt, but he found the endzone less frequently with just eight rushing touchdowns. It was a slight regression for Cam in year 2.
Carolina Panthers in year 2 vs. year 1
The Carolina Panthers went 6-10 in Cam’s rookie season and despite the slight regression in 2012 they managed to get a game better with a 7-9 record.
While the team managed to sneak into the playoffs two years later with a 7-8-1 record, this was not good enough to grant Newton his first playoff berth as the team was simply mediocre on both sides of the ball.
It was not all Cam’s fault, as they ranked 18th in total offense and total defense, but an improvement in year 2 instead of a slight regression could have made all the difference.