"…and with the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton, quarterback, Auburn." 

These are the words that were announced just a few years ago, welcoming in one of the most talented players to ever enter the league.  Cam was supposed to be the franchise, the game changer the Panthers needed to lift them to the promise land.  After a record-breaking rookie season, everyone was on board believing the hype was real, even the detractors who predicted a massive crash and burn result.

Despite a dismal start to his second season, quarterbacking the Panthers to a 2-8 record, Cam turned it around by putting the team on his back. Carolina finished their last six games 5-1.  However, during the roller coaster season criticism continued to get louder as question marks about the franchise QB were prevalent. Plus rookies RGIII, Andrew Luck, and Russell Wilson took the spotlight and pushed Newton to being an afterthought amongst most NFL fans.  With a 13-19 record and the perception of a selfish personality, Cam is on the clock.  Football experts say a franchise quarterback's defining season is his third, and although Carolina has the league's toughest schedule, their will be no excuses for Cam. 

Starting out 0-2 is the worst possible scenario the Panthers could have hoped for.  However with a winless team in the New York Giants coming to town, it was the perfect opportunity to right the ship.  On yesterday Cam did more than turn things around, he put on a performance that has the league and the Carolina fan base buzzing again.  Crushing the Giants 38-0 was a statement, not only for the franchise, but also for himself.  Being the latest cover boy for ESPN the Magazine this past week, Cam had to live up to the hype once again.  But then again, what else is new? 

 

Watch Cam Newton's highlights from Week 3's win over the Giants

 

Make or break season for Cam Newton?  ESPN First Take debates the topic: