Cam Newton Wins MVP, Rivera Wins Coach of the Year
It has been a picture perfect season so far for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. With the exception of their loss to the Atlanta Falcons on December 27, no team could find a way to get past the second-best defense and one of the better offenses of the league. They ultimately finished the regular season 15-1 and are now 3-0 in the postseason as they prepare for their matchup against the Denver Broncos on Super Bowl Sunday.
Saturday marked a historical night for football fans as they watched the NFL Honors. Not only were the Hall of Fame inductees announced, but the yearly awards were given out to the players that showed the most excellence on and off the field. Two members of the Carolina Panthers were featured with an award and they were both easily deserved.
Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton walked home as the NFL’s 2016 Most Valuable Player. He had an incredible regular season that has now extended into the playoffs. He finished the 2015-2016 regular season with 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and 5 fumbles. He had a passer rating of 99.4, while completing 60 percent of his passes.
Let’s take a look back at some of Newton’s most explosive games he had this season. The first one came on September 27 against the New Orleans Saints. It was a close game that ended 27-22 in the Panthers’ favor. Newton finished the game 20-31 with 315 yards. He threw for two touchdown passes and no interceptions, with his longest pass going for 55 yards. It was his first game of the season without an interception and also his first game where he threw 2 touchdowns and ran for one.
On November 11, Newton struck again, but this time against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers had a nice start to the season, but Cam made it known that it wouldn’t be the case when they faced his squad. After coming off a 29-26 overtime win against the Colts, the Panthers knew this game was theirs. Newton finished the game passing for 297 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception. He also had a nice ground game, finishing with 57 yards and one touchdown.
After the victory over Green Bay, the Panthers were 8-0 heading into the second half of the season. This is where Newton really put his foot on the gas pedal. In the second half of the season, Newton managed to throw for 21 touchdowns and ONE interception. In his games against the Washington Redskins, the Saints and the New York Giants, Newton threw 5 touchdown passes each game. It was an incredible run to end the season and ultimately led to him being handed the MVP honor.
Newton, who was getting ready to play the biggest game of his life at the moment, accepted the award via video at the Honors. In the video speech, Newton stated “It means so much, but not just for myself.”
He continued his speech:
“To be the first person in Panthers history to win it – that’s what I’m most proud about. I’ve received a lot of awards, but to be able to get this organization here, I’m really proud. We didn’t get in this position by happenstance. It took years of hard work and dedication, and now we are reaping the benefits.”
There have been many close MVP races in recent years, but this one was a no-brainer. Of the panel of 50 voters that made the decision, 48 of them chose Newton as the MVP. The other two votes were given to Tom Brady and Carson Palmer.
Ron Rivera Wins Coach of the Year
On the other hand, Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera also accepted an award on Saturday night. He was honored as the NFL’s 2016 Coach of the Year. He joins Dom Capers as the only Panthers’ coaches to receive this award. It is Rivera’s second time receiving the award in a three-year span.
Ron Rivera accepted the award via video, like Newton did. In his speech, he stated:
“It’s a tremendous award for the organization. It validates everything that we’ve done. .. And again, our success always starts at the top. I really do appreciate our owner, Mr. [Jerry] Richardson, for believing in me and giving me my opportunity. Dave Gettleman and Marty Hurney – the two general managers I’ve worked with – I thank them for what they’ve done. Our coaching staff has been tremendous. Our players have been outstanding.”
This award’s decision was also fairly easy to make. Rivera received 36.5 votes out of 50. He finished ahead of Andy Reid, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, who received a total of six votes.
We wish the Carolina Panthers good luck in tomorrow’s Super Bowl matchup.