Until something changes -- either the Panthers start winning consistently or Cam Newton can avoid a raging case of the mopes during games -- this will continue to be a storyline. The Panthers' second-year quarterback struggled Thursday in a blowout home loss to the Giants and the subsequent sideline pouting session raised the ire of teammate Steve Smith.
Late in the game and with the outcome long decided, Newton was replaced by backup Derek Anderson. According to the Charlotte Observer's Joe Person, Smith then lit into Newton to get off the bench and stop sulking.
“I watched D.A. (Derek Anderson) and Jimmy (Clausen), they don't play in 20-something games last year," Smith said. "And they get up and they observe and learn and get those mental reps. I told him, 'You can get some mental reps or you can sit on that bench and sulk.'"
Last season, center Ryan Kalil and tackle Jordan Gross told Newton he needed to work on his body language, an assessment the quarterback agreed with.
Anderson, meanwhile, is quite familiar with Newton's situation. Originally drafted by the Ravens, the former sixth-round pick was thrust into the spotlight as the Browns' starter during the 2007 season. After leading Cleveland to a 10-6 record, Anderson was rewarded with a new contract and everything promptly fell apart.
The Browns released Anderson after the '09 season. He signed with the Cardinals, where things got worse. The nadir: In a 2010 blowout loss to the 49ers on Monday Night Football, Anderson was spotted laughing it up on the sideline late in the game. He was asked about it afterwards and, well, it didn't go well.
Following the Panthers' game Thursday, Person asked Anderson if the quarterback is obligated to put on a happy face in less-than-happy situations.
“I think we all can work on that," Anderson said. "It's hard because there's a lot of stress, a lot of pressure you put on yourself. Our teammates expect a lot out of our position. When you don't play as well as you expect out of yourself, it's frustrating. It's hard to stand up and say, ‘Hey, I played like crap.' That's hard to face.
“For him, he's not used to losing. He lost last year. Being with him every day, I know how much he wants to win and how much he puts into it. So I understand the frustration, but it's a maturation process for all of us. I was the same way.”
We talked about Newton's demeanor on Friday's Pro Football 360 (see the video at the top of this post) and on Thursday's Pick-6 Podcast (embedded below). Like we said: until Newton changes, this will continue to be a topic of conversation.