Cam Newton has completed only 40% of his passes in the preseason.
Bumps along the road for rookie quarterbacks are to be expected, which is why we said last night that Newton is the least of Carolina’s problems. The offensive line has struggled to protect, and the defense has been worse.
“I’m very concerned[about the defense],” coach Ron Rivera said Thursday night. “I think the biggest thing is looking at where we are in terms of who’s on the field. We are playing some young guys and they need to get some experience very quickly.
“Our two starting tackles [Sione Fua and Terrell McClain] are both rookies and at times they played like rookies and at times they played like veterans. They are a little bit away but we’re going to live and die with these situations.”
So far, the Panthers defense is dying. Jon Beason isn’t on the field to save the linebacker group. Carolina has made Chad Henne, Reggie Bush, Andy Dalton, and Cedric Benson all look like Pro Bowlers in successive weeks.
It’s easy to forget that Carolina’s defense is making a huge transition under Rivera. The defensive tackles are especially uncertain. Few teams were hurt more by the lockout.