Cam Newton’s Pitiful Performance Against Dolphins Put Him in Historically Bad Company With an NFL Draft Bust

Down 30-10 in the fourth quarter, Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule had seen enough of Cam Newton, former superhero.

Newton, who recently returned to Carolina with pomp and circumstance, was unceremoniously benched in Carolina’s 33-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins. In the process, he made history alongside a player known as being a total draft bust.

Carolina Panthers QB Cam Newton had a terrible game against the Miami Dolphins

Cam Newton, QB Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers stays warm during a play review during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium | Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Newton was pulled by Rhule after being largely ineffective in moving the ball for the Panthers. He started out the game with a 64-yard strike to D.J. Moore, followed by a one-yard spin into the end zone for Carolina’s only touchdown. Newton was unable to accomplish anything after that, though, and his ultimate box score reflected those terrible results.

Newton completed just 5-of-21 passes for 92 yards. He averaged only 4.4 yards per reception and was picked off by the Dolphins twice.

“As it evolved, or devolved I should say … I purely believe Miami outplayed us today, outcoached us today,” Rhule said, according to ESPN. “They were better than us today. Pretty simple to me.”

Newton looked far from the MVP quarterback he once was for the Panthers, and he played soo poorly that Rhule went to P.J. Walker to try to shake things up in the fourth.

If there’s any consolation to Newton, Walker was also picked off by the Dolphins. In all, Miami held the Panthers to just 198 total yards of offense, which is shocking.

Newton and NFL Draft bust Joey Harrington now have something in common

Joey Harrington is a name you don’t hear much anymore, but he was once thought to be the savior for the terrible Detroit Lions. We, of course, now know how that ended up, but there was a time when incredible expectations were put on “Joey Blue-Skies.”

Playing his college ball at Oregon, Harrington was a three-year starter for the Ducks. His senior season saw him throw for 2,415 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was a Heisman Trophy finalist as well as the 2001 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year.

The Lions drafted him No. 3 overall in the 2002 NFL Draft and expected him to be their franchise quarterback. That never happened, clearly, and Harrington went a disappointing 18-37 in 55 career games for the Lions. Many in Detroit considered Harrington a major draft bust, but it’s also worth noting that he didn’t have much help around him. The Lions are one of the worst franchises, not just in the NFL, but in sports, for a reason.

After his performance against the Dolphins, Newton now shares whatever the opposite of rarified air is with Harrington. Newton’s 23.8% completion percentage against Miami is the lowest the NFL has seen from a quarterback in a game with 20-plus throws since Harrington completed just 22.7% of his passes in a game in 2004.

Newton clearly isn’t the long-term answer for the Panthers

Cam Newton back with the Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers takes the field during pregame warm-ups before the game against the Miami Dolphins | Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Panthers’ Embarrassing Cam Newton Experiment Shines a Light on the Team’s Major Dysfunction

At 5-7 and losers of two straight and seven out of their last nine, the Panthers have lost the spark that came from Newton rejoining the franchise. If there was any excitement left, it was extinguished with the news that running back Christian McCaffrey has been lost for the rest of the season with an ankle injury.

At this point, the Panthers’ playoff hopes seem dim, if not wholly unrealistic. They’re fourth in the NFC South. Though four out of their remaining five games are against in-division foes and they already boast wins against the Saints and Falcons, it would take a drastic turnaround for the Panthers to make something of the rest of this season.

McCaffrey being out plays a huge role in the pessimism, but so does Newton’s play over the past two weeks.

The Panthers are 0-2 in his two starts, and he seems more like a gimmick player at this point in his career than anything else. There’s a reason Bill Belichick didn’t want him anymore in New England. There’s a reason he was available for so long on the free-agent market before the Panthers got desperate and picked him up.

Newton is still good for a few tough runs down near the end zone, and yes, he still has a strong arm. Just how much actual quarterbacking does he have left in the tank, though?

His 23.8% completion percentage against Miami suggests the answer to that question is “not much.”

Stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Reference.