Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did not have a good night against the Giants.
He threw three picks, never got the offense moving and ended the night watching Derek Anderson in garbage time of a 36-7 loss. Newton’s response to the rough night did not sit well with wide receiver Steve Smith. Newton sat on the bench with a towel over his head, as was his habit during losses last season, and that led to some “unchoice” words from Smith about what the quarterback should be doing in that situation.
“I watched D.A. and Jimmy (Clausen), they don’t play in 20-something games last year. And they get up and they observe and learn and get those mental reps,” Smith said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “I told him, ‘You can get some mental reps or you can sit on that bench and sulk.'”
Coach Ron Rivera didn’t have any problem with Smith giving Newton a piece of his mind.
“He’s a team captain and he went up and expressed his feelings. That’s between them,” Rivera said. “I do know that team captains have that responsibility. They feel they have the responsibilities to the team and they’ll handle them accordingly.”
It’s not the first time that Newton has had teammates talk to him about his body language and demeanor during games. Tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil told him he needs to avoid such negative impressions when things aren’t going well for the team. Newton said he appreciated the veterans talking to him at the time, although Thursday night shows there’s still some work to do on that front. The quarterback will next speak to the media on Wednesday, when his conversation with Smith is sure to be on the agenda.
The good news for the Panthers is that Newton has shown an ability to bounce back well from bad performances, as he did in Week Two against the Saints after the opening loss to the Bucs. The next step for him and the team is to find a way to limit how often those bad performances pop up.