Ron Rivera defends playing Cam Newton down the stretch last year

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Cam Newton’s sitting at home now, recovering from yesterday’s surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.

But in December, he was playing out the string for a 5-8 team, while a high-profile teammate who had been cleared by doctors was a healthy scratch.

Panthers coach Ron Rivera defended his decision to let Newton play out the string after his initial shoulder injury against the Chargers in Week 14, even after he made linebacker Luke Kuechly inactive for meaningless games after he had been cleared from a concussion.

“I don’t think I need to reconcile that much, because they’re two different athletes, two different injuries, two different sets of circumstances more than anything else,” Rivera said this week at the owners meetings. “The biggest thing more than anything else was listening to what the doctors told us, is the reason we did what we did.”

Rivera’s concern for Kuechly after a concussion that left the former defensive player of the year in tears is fine, bordering on noble. But continuing to play Newton after the Panthers were well out of contention seems dubious now, with Newton’s return to throwing pushing perilously close to the start of training camp.

Asked if he’d have done it differently, Rivera said: “Well, I know it’s 20-20. To make that call now is unfair.” He also defended Newton’s play the following week, when he threw for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Washington. That was one of just two games last year in which Newton had a passer rating higher than 100 (the other being against the 49ers).

On the whole, the former MVP’s season was a disaster, with Newton registering career lows in passer rating (75.8) and completion percentage (52.9). Now, he’s going to spend the offseason rehabbing, instead of taking care of some of the work that clearly needed to be done.

But Rivera said that in looking back at the season, the injuries along the Panthers offensive line were the biggest factor, shifting some of the blame away from Newton himself.

“As much as it was one of his worst seasons, there were other circumstances that we have to correct as well,” Rivera said. “Not completely revolving around the quarterback, but different aspects of what we do on the offensive side. from what we do schematically, to specific positions, specific injuries at those positions and development of specific players. . . .

“He’s going to have to rebuild his confidence. It was shook. Let’s be honest. I’m not going to lie about that. The young man went through a tough time, and we went through a tough time. Why? Because of the injuries that we incurred on the offensive line. That was probably the biggest thing. And again I think it just kind of shows even more the importance and significance of being able to protect your quarterback.”

The Panthers have taken one big step, signing left tackle Matt Kalil, which will allow Michael Oher to play on the right if he returns as they expect. They already had a solid middle of the line, so their hope is that as Newton heals, many of their problems solve themselves.

8 responses to “Ron Rivera defends playing Cam Newton down the stretch last year

  1. I fully expect the Panthers to be picking 1st (or close to it) in the ’18 draft.. and Cam will be the reason why.

  2. “Superman” has been broken every since his cowardly failure in the Super Bowl. He’s a thin skinned egomaniac more concerned with how he looks at the post game presser than winning the game, or jumping on his own fumbles.

  3. My fear as a Panther fan is that the Big Cat’s going to find himself ordering a burger at a Hardee’s in the sky instead of ever wearing a SuperBowl ring on his finger.

    I think Cam has lost his desire to seriously play football and is ready to transition into a cultural icon. Good luck with that, eh?

  4. Wow it’s easy for fans of other teams to say these things.

    Was the offense ever built around Cam like the attention paid to the defense? No.

    Cam has played behind a make shift O-line. I piston the Panthers all the time a day every year I post about how many O-lineman we have on the roster, IR and PS and we average 17-20 players every season to achieve Rivera’s golden rule of100 yards a game rushing. Well stop and think who lead Deangelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in Rushing yards.Cam Newton and most of those were on design runs.

    Now for holding the ball for to long the WR group was canned and a make shift WR group was built. Cam made Ginn look like a#1 WR. Ginn left for the Cards and was benched and cut. We brought him back again and he played great. Who has bee the one passing threat for the Panthers. If you guessed TE Greg Olsen them you are correct.

    The o-line needs to be addressed, but fans don’t understand that Cam is 6’5 not Drew Brees at 6’0. If you understand about a WR’s catching radius the understand a QB has a throwing radius and here lies the problem. Cam Newton is the only QB that wears shin guards. How many have seen the pocket collapse around am and he has to throw off his back foot. Then how many times have you seen Cam hit a helmet with his throwing hand.

    The average height for a Ot is 6’5 3/4″ for a QB average height of 6’2 1/2′”.
    Why does this matter. Well the average height for a center is the same height as the same as the QB. Well C Rya Kalil is 6’2 300 lbs.and RG Turner is 6’3 310 lbs.

    The game against the KC Chiefs C Kalil and RG Turner had to double team NT Dontrai Poe 6’3 346 lbs. That left the A gap ope Cam hit hard and stood and took the hit, but the pass was intercepted. Cam could not step into the throw.

    So I ask what has been done to get bigger O-lineman in front of Cam that has London arms. Now wait. Cam drops back in the pocket, but watch his steps vs a smaller QB. Opposing defenses had learned to play their DE’s in the 7-9 technique. Getting a wider angle to draw the OT’S and OG’s wider what they are doing is pulling Kalil out of the A gap and most the time he is helping Turner. LG Andrew Norwell is the perfect size OG 6’6 325 lbs. And left on an island by himself.

    Sure we signed Matt Kalil at 6’7 317 lbs., But are you banking on Kalil to be the fix? I’m not, but I hope he is. Then that still leaves the RT spot.

    Seriously RT Daryl Williams 6’6 325 lbs. should be moved inside to RG and a RT drafted that is around the same size as Kalil.

    Note here is where Rivera kills me. Ryan Kalil goes down with a shoulder injury, back center Gino Gradkowski 6’3 300 lbs. Comes and gets injured and 3rd string C Tyler Larsen 6’4 335 lbs comes in and plays great the rest of the year.

    So guess what. If you add the 2″ average to the O-lineman at each position and Cam is 6’5 he can still see over the O-lineman. The arm length of the O-lineman is around 35″ and that means a DT or DE will have a harder time getting a pop on tbe O-lineman to collapse the pocket and the 7-9 technique is harder for the opposing DE to get the edge. Though that is not all the opposing DB’S have a harder time reading Can,s eyes.

    Lu’s a bigger o-line can create running lanes big enough for a RB to go to work.

    So I’m sick of tbe lame game planning having Cam sit-in a pocket and not roll him out.

    So when Rivera decides to build around Cam and get some targets and I can’t tell you if WR’s Russell Shepard or Charles Johnson are the answers, but that chapter hasn’t bee written. They very well could be if Cam has time in the pocket a d they hire a new OC and QB coach. Just saying downing Cam saying he needs work makes me wonder then why hasn’t a HC & GM addressed that issue after 6 years with Mike Shula being Cam’s QB coach first then his OC just saying.

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