CHARLOTTE – Quarterback Cam Newton is often at his best when the play breaks down and his instincts take over.
But that's not exactly the most comfortable situation for offensive coordinator Mike Shula.
"Sometimes with him, more so than other guys I've been around, you're like – 'No! What are you ... ? Oh, great job!" Shula said with a laugh.
The latest example occurred during the third quarter of Sunday's 31-24 win over Minnesota, when Newton was forced to improvise on third-and-7. After avoiding the rush, Newton threw across the field and off his back foot to connect with wide receiver Devin Funchess for an 18-yard touchdown.
"Everything I was told not to do, I did," Newton said after the game.
Here's what Shula had to say about how that play unfolded on Monday.
"The timing was maybe a little bit off with his read, which happens," Shula said. "It looked like a sack, which you don't want in that area. But he got out of that.
"He's done such a good job this year of keeping his eyes down the field… We had this conversation in our (meeting) room. A couple weeks ago we had a very similar thing where he threw it late over the middle (against Miami) and it was (nearly an) interception. As coaches, we can't have it both ways. We can't say a couple weeks ago, 'Hey, you can't do this. It's wrong,' and then all the sudden say, 'Good job today.'"
But that's essentially what happens sometimes with a talent like Newton. Some of the rules don't always apply to him.
"You have to be really careful with what you're doing. It's kind of a 'be right,'" Shula said. "You better be right."
He sure was in this case.