By Tank Spencer
The Panthers went into the bye week with a 38-0 drubbing of the N.Y. Giants. That gave many hope for the future. It wasn't that they just beat a bad team, but that they beat them badly. The Panthers seemed to have everything working two weeks ago. Now, after a bad loss to the Arizona Cardinals, we're back to where we started. The question now - “Who will finish last in the division? The Panthers or the Buccaneers?”
There's not much difference between the two now. Except that Tampa only lost to Arizona by 3. Each seem to find a new way to lose each week.
So what is the problem? On Sunday Night Football analyst Rodney Harrison said it is time for the Panthers to bench Cam Newton. I've been saying since last year head coach Ron Rivera needs to be gone. Articles have been written that Cam needs to run the ball more. I've also been screaming they need to lean more on DeAngelo Williams ever since Cam Newton showed up in Charlotte. The organization just can't get it together.
The Panthers' offensive line had more holes in it Sunday than Sonny Corleone. The Cardinals put amazing pressure on Cam Newton sacking him 7 times and forcing him to fumble once. One of those sacks was also a safety. Perhaps next year THAT will be the focus in the draft and they'll be able to be a well-rounded team in three more years.
Although, maybe focus on wide receiver...the team is pretty bad there too. A lack of talent on the outside makes trouble for Cam. Steve Smith is still a great option, but there is a significant drop-off from there. Brandon “oh, the ball LaFell out of my hands,” Ted “special teams is most likely the way my name will be said a-Ginn,” Armanti “no, not the clothing line” Edwards and Domenik “I was the 5th best for the Giants two years ago” Hixon are not going to make Cam any better. When you have a stud QB, you have to give him weapons if you want to win.
Cam is not innocent in this. Time after time I've seen him try to thread a cross-stitch needle with yarn, under throw a deep route more often than over throw it, and just absolutely miss an easy slant. He's also run when he has an open man and made a bad throw when he has a lane to run. It's almost as if he knows he can do so much, he thinks too much on each play and misses the opportunities to make great plays. It just seems to happen too often in the 4th quarter, in critical situations. He's young, he'll make mistakes. I get it. But if it is a trend, then you have idiots like Rodney Harrison calling for your ouster, creating more distraction.
Cam needs to run. The numbers are overwhelming that when Cam runs more, the team wins more. It's what he does. A dual threat quarterback is no good if you limit one of his tools. I understand you want to protect his career, but would you rather have a losing team with a healthy Cam or a winning – maybe playoff – team taking more chances? In four games Cam has just 20 carries. In three losses he carried 5 times, then 4, then 4 again. In the only win, he carried 7 times. Cam has 14 wins in his career and in those wins he carried the ball an average of 9 times. He averages much less in the losses.
As I said before, the Panthers also need to have DeAngelo Williams involved in the game-plan more. In his career, when he has 15 or more carries, the Panthers are 26-12... since Cam arrived, 6-2. When DeAngelo gets 15+ and Cam has 7+, the team is 5-0. I guess the coaching staff needs to understand that it's OK to be a running team... at least to be a run-first, play action, read option type of team.
This team will go nowhere if it can't stay on the ground, limit Cam's chances of throwing the ball away, protect him in the pocket and find him more talented receivers.