Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith has always been outspoken in his analogies and he had yet another analogy to point to on Tuesday. “He’s gone from playing checkers to playing chess”, said Smith when explaining why Newton is suddenly a more efficient version of the play-making superstar that entered the league a few years ago.
It’s a supreme analogy. Newton has always been a kid who looks at the immediate big play, but doesn’t quite see (or rather pay attention to) the big picture. That hasn’t been the case these past few weeks.
For example on Sunday, he completed a franchise high 88.2% of his passes (15-17, 204 yards, 1 td) in a Panthers’ win. That’s not particularly gaudy numbers, but indicates smart football and gets the job done.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera decided to take a less complex, more aggressive approach to his play-calling recently and it’s paid off with a quarterback who now makes the smart play instead of the forced play. It seems that a classic change of roles is the result of the coach being more aggressive now, while the quarterback sees it as his responsibility to protect the football. That’s definitely what you want if you’re a Panthers fan.