There were already plenty of similarities between Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston and Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton before Winston made his NFL debut with the Bucs last season.
Newton and Winston were both Heisman Trophy winners. They both won national championships They were both drafted No. 1 overall in their respective drafts. They both have big arms and plenty of mobility.
They both had eerily similar rookie seasons. Newton went 6-10 in his rookie campaign, throwing for 4,051 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Winston also went 6-10 last season with 4,042 yards, 22 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
Now, Winston is facing the similar sophomore slump struggles Newton underwent in 2012. The Buccaneers enter Monday night’s showdown with the Panthers at 1-3 and Winston has had his fair share of setbacks. He’s thrown for 1,108 yards, 8 touchdowns and 8 interceptions thus far. Panthers coach Ron Rivera can emphasize with what Winston and Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter are dealing with.
“Our guy went through the same thing, exactly,” Rivera said, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. “He wins a national championship, wins a Heisman Trophy and then his first couple of years in the league were hard. They were very hard. They were great learning experiences.”
After going 7-9 during his second season, Newton went 12-4 in 2013 and threw for a career-high 24 touchdowns. Three years later, Newton is the reigning MVP after leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
Newton won’t play Monday night after sustaining a concussion last week in Atlanta. But, fans tuning in could get a glimpse at the next Newton when Winston makes his Monday Night Football debut.