INDIANAPOLIS, IN - When the Panthers hired Norv Turner as their new offensive coordinator in January, Cam Newton had two feelings.
“I asked him, ‘How are you doing?’ and he said, “Well Coach, I’m excited and I’m nervous,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera recalled.
Newton was about to meet with his new coordinator for the first time since Carolina made the hire.
“He (Cam) said, ‘Think about what he’s done for Troy Aikman and those types of guys.’ So it was kind of cool to listen to the anticipation in his voice,” Rivera said.
Turner comes to Carolina with 32 years of NFL coaching experience, including the back-to-back years the Cowboys won a Super Bowl after he became offensive coordinator.
He helped take Aikman from a 7-18 record as a starter, to a 31-11 regular season record and a Super Bowl MVP honor.
Newton already has a 62-45-1 winning record and an NFL MVP award from 2015, and the hope is Turner will help add to that.
“Norv is not here to change him. Norv is here to help him. And it think that’s one of the best things that Cam got from that meeting with him,” Rivera said.
The meeting with Turner is the only chance this offseason the Panthers quarterback and new coordinator have gotten to connect in person, but Rivera said when offseason workouts begin on April 16th the Panthers will see more of what to expect next season.
“I think it’s about improving himself. Working on his game, working on the way he’s going to approach his game. I mean it’s going to be different because I know Norv does things differently, so it’ll be a challenge for him but it’ll be one that he wants,” Rivera said.
But helping Newton improve isn’t the only offseason focus when it comes to quarterbacks. Backup quarterback Derek Anderson, who turns 35 in June, is set to become a free agent.
“Derek’s been a big part of what we’ve done, it’s really kind of like having a coach in the meeting rooms and sidelines and hopefully, we’ll see how things work out,” Rivera said.
It means the Panthers could draft a quarterback.
“It also may be time that we have to start looking for that next guy too. So, bring DA back, draft a young guy, or sign a young guy and develop him too. So we really have to start looking in that direction, but first and foremost we have to start seeing where DA is,” Rivera said.
As the Panthers prepare to make some of those decisions in the next few months leading up to the NFL draft and offseason workouts in April, Panthers General Manager Marty Hurney said they’re discussing what this offense will look like next season.
“I think our offensive players are going to be very excited. I don’t think it’s going to be a night and day change, but obviously there is going to be change in some of the things we do, and some of the emphasis we put on certain areas and I’m excited,” Hurney said.