When things weren’t going so well for the Panthers, Cam Newton was often criticized for sulking after losses.
With that back in full force after losing Super Bowl 50, his teammates were trying to take the pressure off their MVP quarterback by pointing out the collective nature of their offensive failures.
“I don’t think we played well around him,” tight end Greg Olsen said, rattling off a laundry list of their problems moments before Newton conducted a solemn-and-brief press conference. “I don’t think by any means this is all him.
“We can’t turn this into the ‘What’s wrong with Cam Newton?’ show.”
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was also careful to note the protection problems (six sacks) and drops that plagued his team when asked about his quarterback.
“When he had the opportunity to make plays he had plays,” Rivera said. “I’d like to see what would have happened if he had more time.”
While the Panthers offensive breakdowns were multiple, Newton’s reaction to them is going to be dissected for weeks and months to come. While he had seemingly pushed through some of his early career PR difficulties, his reaction to a bad night on the game’s biggest stage is going to bring them back.
And clearly, that’s a concern for a team that for too long had to listen to talk about body language and questions about his leadership.
“We all have areas we can grow,” veteran wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said when asked about Newton’s reaction. “He has his friends and his family and they’ll say what they need to say to him, . . .
“It’s hard. Guys are dealing with it the best way they can.”
Cotchery had his own issues, as his drops and the drops of others were alongside the protection issues that led to the beating that left Newton mumbling one-word replies.
But as the league’s MVP and the face of the franchise, Newton’s reaction will be a storyline until he has a chance to change it.