Panthers struggle to strike the right balance with Cam Newton

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Unless the Panthers are flat-out lying on the injury report, quarterback Cam Newton entered Thursday night’s game against the Buccaneers healthy. So why wouldn’t they simply have him fall forward on the fourth-and-very-short play near the Tampa Bay end zone with the game on the line?

Coach Ron Rivera bristled at post-game questions about a foot that Newton injured in the preseason, insisting the “foot’s got nothing to do” with the decision to not call a quarterback sneak in that spot.

If that’s true, it’s not an existing injury but a desire to avoid the next one that has the Panthers exercising undue caution with Cam. For several years, they’ve been trying to resist the temptation to devote a sizable chunk of the running game to a player who seems to be, but who clearly isn’t, indestructible.

Infatuated by his jaw-dropping size and by his ability to gain yards and score points with his feet, the Panthers previously hadn’t been able to successfully and consistently cut back on his running. After last year’s shoulder injury and this year’s foot scare, they appear to be determined to restrict him to pocket passer.

That’s fine, but even pocket passers sometimes plunge through one of the “A” gaps to gain quick and easy inches. Tom Brady used to do it all the time, and Newton should be able to will his way forward by a foot or two when absolutely necessary.

Many will still assume that Cam is secretly injured, whether it’s his foot or his arm. Rivera said there’s “no issue” with Cam’s surgically-repaired shoulder, pointing out that he threw the ball deep a couple of times.

He’s still not throwing the ball accurately. And an inability to control the direction and/or the velocity of the ball is every bit as troubling as an inability to throw it deep down the field.

Indeed, it’s arguably better for the Panthers and Newton if Cam actually is injured. Otherwise, the only logical explanation for last night’s performance is that he has lost his high-end skills. If he doesn’t get them back, 2019 could end up being his last year in Carolina.

25 responses to “Panthers struggle to strike the right balance with Cam Newton

  1. Truth is Cam is beat up. They can deny it all they want but it’s clear. The new owner should just fire the coaching staff and look for a new QB. There is no quick fix for this franchise

  2. If they continue to play the way they played in their first two games, the Panthers and the Fins are going to be fighting for the worst record and the No. 1 pick in the next draft. I suspect Tepper is grinding his back molars and already thinking about cleaning house. Who takes the over/under on Norm Turner getting tossed under the bus if things don’t improve in a hurry?

  3. If they would simply employ a fullback & a powerback they could save CN from some of those hits and pick up those tough yards but who knows better than the professionals. Lol

  4. He’s not a good passer. He threw 51 passes and at least 20 of those were so far off the receiver had no chance. He threw two deep balls to Moore that were were way underthrown. If an accurate passer threw them, they’d have gone for 2 TDs.

    So, if he isn’t going to run… why is he out there? And why are they running so many read option plays when he doesn’t almost never keeps the ball. These coaches aren’t very good.

  5. He went vegan in the offseason, no? Lost probably too much muscle to go along with the weight he lost.

  6. He’s scared of getting hit. Watch the throws from last night where he missed open receivers: Poor footwork where he wasn’t stepping through even when he wasn’t under pressure. Now, he might have underlying injuries contributing to that but it’s clear he’s shying away from all contact which also explains why he doesn’t run any longer and why he wouldn’t be wanting to run QB sneaks.

  7. Clearly, Cam is an exceptional athlete, but I’ve been thinking since he first entered the league that he needed to limit the running. I don’t recall seeing him slide to avoid a hit, and he seems to take it to the defender as much as the defender takes it to him.

    I have strongly felt that the wear and tear on his body was too much, and I have to wonder if that is what is holding him back at this point. Too bad.

  8. Cam stands there, rears back, and heaves the ball forward. He doesn’t really pass. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows Luck’s lead, and retires abruptly, once the losses start piling-up. I don’t think his ego can take it.

  9. joetoronto says:
    September 13, 2019 at 4:18 pm
    Once a running quarterback loses his speed he’s done, ask Mike Vick.

    Also, consider what happened to RGIII. Bad injury in a game while running the ball after a stellar rookie year. Never the same since.

    I’m not a fan of running quarterbacks. Due to threat of injury, run mainly as a change of pace that surprises the defense. And get out of bounds or slide. And certainly don’t pull a stupid move like Jimmy Garopolo.

  10. From Mike Vick to Daunte Culpepper to RGIII to Cam Newton, it is amazing how quick mobile QBs deteriorate once they lose their legs and/or their nerve.

  11. The issue is that CAM can’t get beyond chewing his mountain blue berry gum and deciding what he will wear during his pressers. He isn’t a top tier QB nor has he ever been. The allure that Cam thinks he has in the NFL isn’t there. He just isn’t that good.

  12. If Cam can’t or isn’t going to run he’s at best an average QB…like a Cutler.

    Each time he’s tried to run this year you can see the dejection on his face after that his body isn’t/can’t do what he’s relied on his entire career.

    He’s a few hits away from pulling a “luck”.

    CMC’s agent needs to step in and tell the org that my guy isn’t playing 100% of the plays…this coaching staff has proven with it’s handling of Cam’s injuries since 2015 that its self-serving and has no regard for their players health…just win enough to keep their jobs!

  13. qckappa says:
    September 13, 2019 at 3:35 pm
    If they would simply employ a fullback & a powerback they could save CN from some of those hits and pick up those tough yards but who knows better than the professionals. Lol

    Well, they had Jonathon Stewart and Mike Tolbert for years, and I don’t remember them lessening the punishment Cam took.

  14. Why didn’t the Panther call a QB sneak? Why did Pete Carrol/Darrell Bevell call a pass play when they had the Patriots on the ropes? Sometimes you just outsmart yourself.

  15. Ron Rivera is lying. He does it all the time. Coach speak. If he does not get this team turned around, he will be fired. Plain and simple. And Norv Turner right along with him. David Tepper will one day say enough is enough and pull the plug on the current debacle in Carolina.

  16. My diagnosis of Cam is this: Below the neck, he is ok. Above the shoulders, he is not ok. He is one weirded out dude. All those crazy outfits he’s been wearing for years were topped by the “Thelma and Louise” he was wearing Thursday. How in the hell can a QB in the NFL expect his teammates to follow him as the leader of their offense when he constantly makes himself the subject of public ridicule?

  17. I don’t think defense is Carolina’s problem right now …. we need a quarterback who can hit receivers

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