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Ron Rivera: Cam Newton was 'shook' in 2016

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is ready for some real talk when it comes to franchise quarterback Cam Newton.

"He's gonna have to rebuild his confidence. I mean, he was shook. Let's be honest. I'm not going to lie about that," Rivera said at the Annual League Meeting on Wednesday morning in Phoenix. "The young man went through a tough time and we went through a tough time. Why? Because of the injuries that we suffered on the offensive line. That was probably was the biggest thing. It just kind of shows you the more of the importance of being able to protect your quarterback."

Rivera is right. Watching Newton during Carolina's stunning 15-1 run in 2015 and watching him last year produced completely different experiences. There was something about Newton in 2015 that transcended the game. Until their Super Bowl collapse, nothing seemed impossible and Newton himself did not appear out of line when he talked about being a quarterback beyond the likes of anything the NFL has ever seen.

Last year, Newton and Rivera spoke out about the type and frequency of hits Newton received. The offense seemed clunky, like a behemoth on its last legs. Newton was not an untouchable player anymore.

This offseason, general manager Dave Gettleman went back to the drawing board and continued building a team in Newton's vision. In previous years, it was heady veterans and incredibly tall and rangy wide receivers who could negate any misfires. Now, it is another significant investment in the offensive line. Carolina inked former No. 4 overall pick Matt Kalil to be their left tackle of the foreseeable future and can now shuffle some of their remaining pieces accordingly.

It doesn't sound like much, but anything that helps foster Newton's confidence is good for business. We've seen what is possible.

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