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Cam Newton certainly made a mess of things with his comments about female reporters discussing routes, but on the field, he's been far more on-target of late. Per ESPN's Field Yates, Newton's completion rate has improved every week this season—from 56 percent in Week 1, to 62.5 percent, 65.4 percent, 75.9 percent, and finally 78.8 percent in Carolina's 27-24 win over the Lions on Sunday. Newton turned tight end Ed Dickson into a star with a five-catch, 175-yard day, and he distributed the ball well to primary receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess.  

Newton hit Dickson on a skinny post with 6:14 left in the first quarter that Dickson turned into a 64-yard play after the catch. Newton timed the throw perfectly with optimal lower-body mechanics and a quick, efficient release. The second big play to Dickson came on a 3rd-and-1 early in the second quarter with the Lions reading run. Newton faked the ball to halfback Jonathan Stewart out of an I formation, then rolled to his left as Detroit's defense cheated to the run. Dickson was wide open to the left side for a 57-yard gain. The Lions were outfoxed again and again by the specter of the run and option games, which are a huge part of Newton's best passing performances. His touchdown shovel pass to rookie halfback Christian McCaffrey was a perfect example of this.

The Panthers had the ball at the Lions' 6-yard line with 11:09 left in the first half. Stewart was in the backfield in an offset pistol and McCaffrey in a right-side H-back placement. At the snap, rookie receiver Curtis Samuel ran a fake sweep from left to right, forcing both nickel linebackers to take a step the wrong way. Stewart then flared out to the left as the first read in the run-pass option, and McCaffrey pulled with the right guard from right to left. With the Lions focused on four possible options—the pitch to Stewart, the pass to McCaffrey, Newton running or Newton throwing—it was easy for the sginal-caller to give McCaffrey the his first NFL touchdown.

Newton's stat line—26 completions in 33 attempts for 355 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions—would be a great day for any quarterback. That the Panthers were able to fully integrate their ground game into Newton's improving reads and mechanics makes them a very tough out for any defense they face.

What a difference a month can make.

Source :

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