Why 2019 is so crucial for Panthers’ Cam Newton

The lengthening of superstar NFL quarterback careers in recent years has thrown out of whack the perspective that once informed where QB are in their arc, and how much time they have left.

In 2019, two NFL starting quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Drew Brees) will be over 40, and at least eight of them — 25 percent of the league’s presumptive Week 1 starters — will be at least 34 years old. Of those, only Eli Manning appears to show signs of decline or readiness to retire.

Once upon a time, a quarterback turning 30, as Cam Newton did last month, might have seemed like a significant milestone. Nowadays, however, it more than likely only means that a passer has another decade left of his career. Obviously, injuries and a few other factors can play a hand, especially for a quarterback who takes so much contact. But short of something catastrophic, there’s little reason to assume Newton should think his days are numbered.

Newton, coming off shoulder surgery in late January, is scheduled to throw in quarterback drills, though on a pitch count and aiming at stationary targets, when the Panthers open mini-camp Tuesday. This isn’t the first time Newton has thrown a football since undergoing the procedure, as the world found out earlier this month when a fan’s video of Newton throwing on a practice field made waves online, much to the dismay of Panthers head coach Ron Rivera.

After eight seasons, it’s fair to presume that Cam is right about at the midpoint of his career. Sadly, he’s beginning the second half returning from a serious injury, one that derailed what had been something of a comeback season for the quarterback. While Newton is among the league’s biggest stars, and has put together moments and short stretches of greatness, he has struggled to produce at the elite level on a year-to-year basis in the NFL.

Newton’s 2015 MVP season, albeit one where he fell just short of a championship, seemed to be a realization of the early career progression. He had reached the zenith and appeared at the time there to stay, until he wasn’t. Newton regressed considerably the following year, and didn’t return to dominating form again until 2018, even if the second half of last season was marred by struggle through injury. That dip in performance wasn’t entirely Newton’s fault, as Carolina has been frustratingly unable to surround its star quarterback with comparable talent in the receiving corps. The hire of Norv Turner last year, as mocked as it was at the time, inoculated life into play-calling that had become stagnant in Carolina.

Hopefully that means Newton can establish some consistency in the years to come. As Turner tells it, Cam has displayed urgency in his effort to be back on the field in time for the start of this coming season. “He’s really attacked this rehab, and he’s done everything he could possibly do physically to get back to where he is with the shoulder,” Turner told SI. “It’s been good for him to concentrate on the mental part of it. There’s only so much he can do, without throwing. And he’s really grown there, without being able to throw.”

That’s a significant leap from initial fears in January that Newton might have to miss a season to recover. Owner David Tepper tried to put a positive spin on it at the time, saying the wait would be worth it to get their franchise quarterback back to 100 percent. But there’s no denying that it would be a frustrating setback to Newton and those who want to see him realize his potential.

With the younger weapons in the Panthers’ offense starting to reach maturation,  there’s reason to believe Newton can make strides again this season if his health cooperates. Receiver D.J. Moore aims to build off an encouraging rookie season and Christian McCaffrey in 2018 proved himself worthy of the first-round pick the Panthers spent on him the year before.

This may not be a make-or-break season for Newton, but assuming he’s fortunate enough not to have his health be a deterrent for the second straight year, it can be pivotal and set him up for a back half of a career that might place him among the greats.

By: Michael Tunison

Original Article

Top takeaways from Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action

Sunday’s Week 14 NFL action was about as crazy as it gets. From the Miracle in Miami to Amari Cooper’s brilliant performance in Big D, we were treated to a whole heck of a lot of drama.

The early-afternoon slate included Baker Mayfield and the Browns making a major statement in a win over the reeling Panthers. Meanwhile, the Cowboys pretty much ended the NFC East race with a win over the defending champions later in the afternoon.

These are among the top takeaways from one of the most eventful Sunday’s of NFL football we’ve seen in some time.

Rams offense exposed in a big way

The Chicago Bears’ recipe for success Sunday night against a one-loss Los Angeles Rams team was pretty obvious. Their Vic Fangio-led defense focused primarily on stopping Todd Gurley, forcing Jared Goff to pretty much go it alone. The end result was an offensive performance from the Rams that we have not seen since the Jeff Fisher days.

Goff competed 20-of-44 passes for 180 yards with four interceptions in the 15-6 loss. Meanwhile, Gurley went for just 28 yards on 11 attempts. Making the Rams’ offense one dimensional proved to be successful for Chicago. And we can expect other teams to follow suit as the season comes to a conclusion.

Mark Sanchez makes Colin Kaepernick’s case for him

The Washington Redskins’ decision to avoid Colin Kaepernick in free agency has come under fire recently. Once Alex Smith was lost for the season to a potentially career-ending leg injury, the Redskins decided to bring in Mark Sanchez off the streets. When Colt McCoy also suffered a serious lower-body injury, Washington added a quarterback in Josh Johnson who has not attempted a regular season pass since 2011.

All the while, Kaepernick remains unsigned as he continues with a collusion case against the NFL. If Sanchez’s performed during Sunday’s 40-16 loss to the Giants is any indication, Kaepernick is smiling ear to ear. Sanchez completed just 5-of-13 passes for net 16 passing yards with two interceptions in the first half alone. That included an absolutely brutal pick-six. All said, Sanchez finished the game with nine net passing yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions before getting benched in the blowout loss. Gross.

Dallas avoids meltdown, takes control of NFC East

There’s a reason the Cowboys exhausted a first-round pick in a trade for Amari Cooper back in October. The former Oakland Raiders Pro Bowler has been absolutely dynamite since joining the Cowboys, catching 30 passes for 425 yards in five games. Cooper was back at it Sunday against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. He nabbed 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. That included this long score to put Dallas up late in the third quarter.

Even then, the Cowboys couldn’t separate themselves from Philadelphia. Instead, the Eagles forced overtime despite having yielded nearly 600 total yards of offense. That’s when Cooper came up big time. On third down and long from the Eagles’ 15, Cooper caught his third score of the game in walk-off fashion. By virtue of the 32-26 win, Dallas now boasts an almost insurmountable two-game lead in the NFC East.

Panthers are now completely toast

Losers of four consecutive heading into Sunday’s game against the Browns, Carolina needed to get off the schneid in order to remain in the NFC Playoff race. Whether it was the team’s inability to stop Baker Mayfield or Cam Newton’s struggles in the red zone, it just didn’t happen. In the end, these Panthers lost by the score of 26-20 to fall to 6-7 on the season.

For his part, Newton completed 26-of-42 passes for 265 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. Four of the Panthers’ drives in Cleveland’s end of the field resulted in a grand total of three points. That included a turnover on downs inside the 10 with the game on the line. Yeah, these Panthers are now officially declawed.

Broncos drop the ball big time

There wasn’t really any reason to believe that the Broncos would go to Santa Clara and come away with a loss against the two-win San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. San Francisco had lost three consecutive games by a combined 49 points. The Broncos were in the midst of a three-game winning streak with victories over the Chargers and Steelers during that span.

Unfortunately for head coach Vance Joseph and Co., the team simply didn’t come to play in the first half. Denver trailed 20-0 at halftime with 49ers tight end George Kittle putting up north of 200 yards in the first two quarters. A valiant second half comeback attempt fell short. Now at 6-7 on the season, one can reasonably conclude the Broncos won’t be playing playoff football. If so, this one loss will be a primary reason why.

Patrick Mahomes is the NFL MVP

All the Takeaways

By Vincent Frank

 

Winners and losers from NFL Week 12

Some pretty big stuff went down in NFL Week 12 as contenders scrapped for a foothold in the playoff chase heading into the season’s final quarter.

One game that featured teams on the other end of the spectrum gave us one of the most poetic moments of the season.

With only two teams on a bye this week, there was plenty of stuff to digest. These were the biggest winners and losers from the action.

Winner: Browns get revenge 

Cleveland did some incredible stuff in the first half on the road against Cincinnati. The Browns put up 28 points in the first half — essentially putting the game away before halftime. It was the first time since 1991 that they’d scored that many points in a first half.

It was also the first road win in 26 tries — saving the Browns from the embarrassment of setting another dubious NFL record.

Along the way, Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb continued to show they’re going to be centerpieces in Cleveland for a long time. Mayfield threw multiple touchdowns for the fifth game in a row (he finished with four and no interceptions), and Chubb racked up 128 yards with two touchdowns.

Oh, and they did it all against their former head coach.

Loser: Who’s trash now, Ramsey?

Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey made headlines before the season for an interview he did in which he blasted many of the league’s quarterbacks. Among them, he singled Buffalo’s Josh Allen out, calling him “trash.” He would also take to social media to troll Allen, which made his disdain for the rookie all the more clear.

Well, Allen and the Bills took it to Ramsey and the Jaguars on Sunday, winning 24-21 in Buffalo, and honestly the game wasn’t really as close as that. Allen outplayed Blake Bortles — throwing a gorgeous 75-yard touchdown pass and scoring twice, helping his team hand Jacksonville its seventh loss in a row.

Right now, it’s clear that the Jags are trash. Being dismantled by Allen and the Bills at this point in the season accentuated that fact.

Winner: Lamar and Gus do it again

For the second weekend in a row, Lamar Jackson and Gus Edwards led a winning offensive attack as the Baltimore Ravens easily cruised past the Oakland Raiders.

Jackson accounted for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and Edwards was brilliant on the ground going for 118 yards on 23 carries — a lot of that coming in the second half as the Ravens protected the lead.

Earlier on Sunday before the games began, a report emerged that Jackson had a “strong shot” to retain the job even if Joe Flacco is healthy. Based on the way things have gone the past two weeks — Baltimore snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend and is now very much in the playoff hunt — benching the rookie would be a tough sell.

Loser: Oh, No, Gano!

There are a few things that stand out as big mistakes by Carolina on Sunday in their three-point loss to Seattle. The decision to go for it on fourth down at Seattle’s five-yard line on their first offensive possession backfired, for one. Cam Newton’s interception in the end zone on the first drive of the second half was brutal, too.

At the least, those mistakes cost Carolina potentially six points.

But despite them, the Panthers had a real chance to win at the end of the game. Newton and the offense moved into field-goal range with under two minutes remaining. Then, just like last weekend, Graham Gano — usually extremely reliable — missed the potential game-winner.

Seattle drove down the field and converted the actual game-winner with time expiring instead. Now at 6-5, having lost three straight games, a playoff spot is in no way guaranteed for these Panthers.

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By: Jesse Reed

Winners and losers from ‘Thursday Night Football’ in Week 10

Most around the NFL anticipated a highly competitive game between the red-hot Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers on “Thursday Night Football.”

Carolina had won three consecutive games while the Steelers were in the midst of a four-game winning streak. What transpired was anything but competitive.

Cam Newton threw an early pick-six. JuJu Smith-Schuster broke the Panthers’ will with a 75-yard touchdown. Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger had two more touchdowns than incomplete passes.

These are among the winners and losers from Pittsburgh’s blowout 52-21 win over Carolina on Thursday night.

Winner: Vince Williams shows out as playmaker for Pittsburgh

Pressure from T.J. Watt might have forced Cam Newton’s hand. But that doesn’t mean Williams didn’t come away with a game-altering play less than five minutes into the first quarter. With the game tied at seven, he picked off this Newton pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown. It was the Steelers’ second score in 13 seconds and set the stage for the remainder of the evening.

Not to be outdone by that one play, Williams also tallied four tackles, one quarterback hit and one sack in the 52-21 Steelers win. He simply played some tremendous football in front of the home crowd at Heinz Field Thursday evening.

Loser: Le’Veon Bell’s value continues to diminish

Pittsburgh’s offense is an absolute juggernaut. It proved this in more ways than one against a good Carolina Panthers defense Thursday night. When all was said and done inside Heinz Field, the Steelers dropped a cool 457 yards and 52 points in one of the biggest blowouts in primetime television that we’ve seen in some time.

Now that Bell’s holdout has continued through nine games, second-year back James Conner continues to show out. He put up 73 total yards on 14 touches, including a touchdown. This led to an official NFL Twitter account trolling Bell big time. The more Conner continues to dominate, the less valuable Bell becomes. Thursday’s blowout win over Carolina was the latest example of this.

Winner: Christian McCaffrey continues recent success

Coming off a brilliant 157-yard performance last week against the Buccaneers, this second-year back came into Thursday’s game on pace for nearly 1,800 total yards this season. Immediately out of the gate, McCaffrey showed why Carolina made him a top-10 pick in the first place. He tallied 60 total yards on six touches, including this 20-yard touchdown catch from Cam Newton, to open the scoring on Carolina’s first drive of the game.

McCaffrey then scored Carolina’s second touchdown in the first half, a 25-yard pass from Newton to pull the game within 24-14. Sure, the Panthers’ defense did nothing to help them win this game. But a star is being born in Carolina right in front of our eyes. All said, McCaffrey gained 138 total yards on 19 touches with all three Panthers touchdowns in the game. That included five catches for 61 yards. He’s in domination mode right now.

Loser: Cam Newton comes up small

All the winners and losers here

By Vincent Frank

Winners and losers from NFL Week 8

Before Sunday’s slate of games got going, there was some serious drama in London as the Jacksonville Jaguars made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

That should have clued us in to the fact that NFL Week 8 was going to get weird.

The league’s most dominant defense was smashed to bits. Adrian Peterson outplayed Saquon Barkley. And a former No. 1 overall pick hit a new low.

These were the biggest winners and losers from NFL Week 8.

Cam Newton Walks Out Of Press Conference Amid Questions

Written by David Newton at ESPN.com

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton abruptly walked out of his Wednesday news conference after a question about the offense’s ability to consistently get yardage in “big chunks.”

Newton paused when asked the question, rolled his eyes and answered with “next question.” He then exited. He was approximately a step away from the podium as another reporter attempted to ask a question.

“Cam didn’t intend to be discourteous toward any specific media member,” Panthers spokesman Steven Drummond said in a statement. “In his mind, after answering questions for nine minutes he had fulfilled his obligations.”

Newton’s exit came a week after he did not fulfill his weekly media obligations and speak on Wednesday or Thursday. And it came two weeks after he publicly apologized for making light of a football question from a female reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue took two weeks off after the incident and returned last week.

Newton met his media obligations during the time prior to that.

Wednesday wasn’t the first time Newton cut short a news conference. His most publicized early exit followed a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, when he walked out on reporters after answering only a handful of questions, mostly with short responses. He later admitted to being a “sore loser.”

The Panthers (4-3) have struggled with completing passes of more than 20 yards this season, particularly the past two weeks in losses to the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. Newton was 1-for-6 with an interception on attempts of 20-plus yards in those games.

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Cam Newton Makes Sexist Remark To Female Reporter

Written by David Newton at ESPN.com

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton laughed and made light of a female reporter who asked about one of his teammates, saying it was “funny to hear a female” ask the question.

Charlotte Observer beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue asked Newton during Wednesday’s news conference about wide receiver Devin Funchess embracing the physicality of routes and if Newton got enjoyment out of that.

Newton responded, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes like — it’s funny.”


Panthers director of communications Steven Drummond said in a statement that he spoke with Newton and Rodrigue “and I know they had a conversation where he expressed regret for using those words. We strive as a department to make the environment for media comfortable for everyone covering the team.”

Rodrigue said in a statement that Newton did not apologize.

“This afternoon, I did my job as an NFL beat writer and asked Cam Newton a question about one of his receivers. I was dismayed by his response, which not only belittled me but countless other women before me and beside me who work in similar jobs,” Rodrigue said. “I sought Mr. Newton out as he left the locker room a few minutes later. He did not apologize for his comments.”

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Panthers Hang On Against Bills, But No One Scored a TD

Written by Michael Persinger at The Charlotte Observer.com

Buffalo Bills first-year head coach Sean McDermott, after a long stint as Carolina’s defensive coordinator, knows as much about Cam Newton and the Panthers offense as well as anyone.

What he couldn’t quite figure out in his second game as an NFL head coach was how to get into the end zone against the Panthers defense he led for six seasons.

That combination led to Sunday’s ugly, 9-3 Panthers victory in their home opener.

“It is tough to win in this league when all you can do is kick field goals, but you’ve got to give them credit because they played hard as well,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

A Tyrod Taylor pass bounced off the hands of rookie wide receiver Zay Jones inside the Carolina 5 on fourth and 11 from the Carolina 33, and the Panthers survived.

Panthers kicker Graham Gano made field goals of 34, 28 and 20 yards, the last of which gave Carolina a 9-3 lead with 2:38 to play. But the Panthers (2-0) never found the end zone, despite twice reaching the red zone.

It didn’t help the Panthers offense that center Ryan Kalil didn’t play, although he was dressed, after reportedly waking up on Sunday with a sore neck. And tight end Greg Olsen left in the first half with what he confirmed afterward is a broken right foot, returning to the sideline after halftime using crutches and wearing a boot.

And Newton spent time in the sideline injury tent after the Bills’ sixth sack of the day, with an ankle injury.

But the Panthers survived the Bills, and McDermott, although Newton said it wasn’t McDermott who caused the Panthers’ struggles.

“It wasn’t anything he did that frustrated me,” Newton did. “That was self-inflicted frustration.”

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WTF is Up With the Carolina Panthers?

Monday night’s final score might have been 17-14 in favor of Tampa Bay, but that doesn’t feel like the answer to those questions. Neither team really deserved to win that Monday Night Football game, and you can argue that both sides focused their efforts into losing the contest.

Which is the better team? That’s a question that will linger for those who care to think about such depressing things.

Here’s what we do know: The Carolina Panthers’ season is over.

The defending NFC champions are now 1-4 on the season, sitting in last place in the NFC South.

The playoffs are out of the question now — only eight teams in NFL history have come back from a 1-4 start to make the postseason, and we haven’t seen anything from this team that signals a turnaround is imminent. In fact, things might get worse before they get better.

Who would have thought that after five games, the team that finished 15-1 and pushed for an undefeated season late into last year’s campaign, would be done?

How did we get here?

The Panthers’ near-championship 2015 season was built upon the foundation of one of the best defenses in the NFL, and that’s where their undoing began as well.

The decision to let Josh Norman walk into free agency for no return is looking like an all-time blunder — the Panthers have already released one starting cornerback this season, as the team’s pass defense is perhaps the worst in the NFL post-Norman.

But Monday night’s game highlighted just how much the Panthers’ defense has deteriorated.

The Buccaneers only passed the ball 30 times Monday, and while that might seem like a lot, it isn’t when you consider how poor the Panthers’ pass defense is and the fact that Tampa Bay ran the ball 37 times.

It was a baffling game plan, running more often than passing, but it ended up working (kind of) because Carolina’s run defense was poor Monday.

The Panthers used to have the best — or one of the best — defensive lines in football, but against an average-at-best Bucs front, the guys in the light-blue jerseys were getting manhandled at times. The Panthers’ defense right now is Luke Kuechly and 10 plastic trash bins, like in a practice.

When you inexplicably lose your ferocious pass rush and gap discipline and you have a pass defense that logically regresses (and then regresses some more), you do not have a team that is going to often find itself  in a position to win.

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Injury Reports for Forte, Newton


Written by Jordan Heck at SportingNews.com

While we’re waiting on Doug Martin, Jonathan Stewart, Arian Foster and others to return, Week 4 saw more injuries to other fantasy football stars. Big-name quarterbacks like Cam Newton and Carson Palmer were forced to leave their respective games early, while running backs like Matt Forte and Dwayne Washington suffered injuries, as well. Plus, Rashad Jennings is still questionable leading up to Week 4’s Monday night game. Another week, another round of backup RBs and handcuffs being among the top waiver wire pickups for Week 5.

We’re here to provide you with the latest injury updates so you know whether or not your guys are okay.

Matt Forte injury update

Forte was seen riding by the Jets locker room on a cart toward the X-Ray room after New York’s Week 4 loss to the Seahawks. After the game, coach Todd Bowles said he didn’t have an update on Forte. He was dealing with a knee injury heading into the game but was ultimately removed from the injury report.

As of now, there’s not a lot of information regarding Forte, but it’s something to monitor. If he misses time, expect Bilal Powell to become more involved. The backup rusher caught six passes for 54 yards on Sunday and is a nice PPR add on waivers this week.

What happened to Cam Newton?

Newton took a hard hit while trying to score on a two-point conversion on the goal line, and he was later diagnosed with a concussion. He’s now in the league’s concussion protocol and needs to complete a five-step process in order to play in Week 5 against the Buccaneers, which happens to be a Monday night game.

The Panthers quarterback must first return to a “baseline level of signs and symptoms and neurological examination.” From there, he can begin light aerobic exercise and eventually advance to football activities. If a team doesn’t follow protocol it can be punished, so expect Carolina to take care of Newton. It’s too early to know if he’ll play next week, but his status is in question.

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