Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman didn't hire Ron Rivera or draft Cam Newton, and as a first-year GM, he's likely still trying to identify just what type of team he has on his hands. Still, he's missing the point in regard to Cam Newton.
Per the Charlotte Observer, Gettleman said, "Cam has had the best two years of any rookie quarterback in NFL history. And everybody talks about the other young [quarterbacks]. What he's done has been completely lost in the sauce because of the elephant in the room, the 13-19 record. I'm a bit believer in letting nature take its course. Things will happen naturally."
To follow that point, Gettleman seems to back off the latter part of his comment.
"Yes, he is," Gettleman said when asked if Newton was the quarterback to build around. "But now it's time to win."
You see what happened there? First, Gettleman speaks of letting nature take its course, then he says it's time to win now. That's a bit like saying, "We're focusing on developing Cam Newton, unless he's not good enough right now."
Gettleman went on to praise Newton's physical talent, but Gettleman is missing the point on the Cam Newton front altogether. Cam Newton can win. There's no doubt about it, but he has to have weapons around him to help.
To drive that point home, Gettleman claims that Newton had the best two year debut by any quarterback in league history, and that may be true if you're only looking at passing yards, but the NFL isn't about that. It's about wins and losses. Other young quarterbacks get all the praise because it's their teams in the playoffs, not the Panthers.
The Panthers are positioned in a difficult division. While they may be better than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints and Falcons both look like they'll be in the playoff hunt, leaving little room for the Panthers to make it into the tournament.
The big lingering question in Carolina is, what happens if the Panthers miss the playoffs again? We assume that Cam Newton will stick with the team, but what of Ron Rivera and the rest of the coaching staff? Will Gettleman bring in new guys, or will he stick with the same group of coaches that will have missed the playoffs three years in a row? The answer to that question could determine Cam Newton's future success. For now, the Panthers will let nature play out as it will, so long as nature involves winning.