Cam Newton continues to be let down by supporting cast

Cam Newton is an MVP. He continues to put his team in positions to win despite the inferiority of nearly everyone around him. The lack of help on offense catches up to them sometimes, as it did in the 2017 playoff game and in their first loss of 2018.

The good

Christian McCaffrey looks legit. He‘s no longer going down on first and is running well between the tackles. He‘s averaging 4.8 yards on the ground. After having 80 receptions last season, he already has 20 this season in just two games. His 14 from Sunday tied the team record. On a day without many reliable receivers, McCaffrey stood out.

D.J. Moore hasn‘t seen much playing time and has struggled to create separation but had a nice 53-yard catch and run for a score.

Curtis Samuel, when healthy, has been a versatile weapon in both the running and passing game.

Norv Turner, taking over for the fired Mike Shula, has been better on play calling than Shula was. He‘s allowing Cam to be Cam and has piloted the offense well.

The bad

Aside from an aging Steve Smith, Cam Newton has never had a legitimate number one wide receiver. In his rookie year in 2011, it was Legedu Naanee. In six seasons, he has 1,232 yards and has been out of the league since 2012. In 2012 and 2013, it was Brandon LaFell, and in those two seasons he had 93 catches for 1,304 yards — which is close to what an elite wideout produces in a season.

From 2014 to 2017, it was Kelvin Benjamin. His stats are fine but he failed to get much separation and slowed down the offense. In 2015, when Benjamin missed the entire season, the offense scored over 30 points per game en route to a Super Bowl appearance.

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In 2017, Cam Newton was the team‘s leading rusher by 74 yards. In 2018, through two games, he leads the team with 100 rushing yards. Tight end Greg Olsen has been a staple, becoming the first tight end in history to post three consecutive 1,000 yard seasons. However, after missing nine games last season with a broken foot, he‘s re-injured the same foot and won‘t play again for some time. According to the staff at CBS Sports, Greg is aiming to return in four or five weeks.

In the 2017 playoff game, Cam‘s receiving corps was made up of a hobbled Greg Olsen, an injured Devin Funchess, Kaelin Clay, Russell Shepard, and Brenton Bersin. Bersin is not on an roster and both Shepard and Clay are buried deep down on the New York Giants depth chart.

Cam Newton has not had enough help

Cam proceeded to go 24-40 with 349 yards and two touchdowns. His rating was 105.3. His receivers, who failed often to get open, had three official drops (although bad receiver play led to more incompletions), including one in the end zone.

On a last-second heave to Devin Funchess, Funchess completely missed the ball.

The offensive line has been decimated by injuries, but even before that, it wasn‘t a very good group. Center Ryan Kalil only played six games last season and is 33. Right Guard Trai Turner was a Pro-Bowler, but is currently on the shelf with a concussion. Left Tackle Matt Kalil is on Injured Reserve with a right knee injury. Right Tackle Daryl Williams went down in training camp with a torn MCL and dislocated patella and then re-injured the same leg in Week 1 and will need surgery.

The new offensive line consists of a young inexperienced player playing out of position, two career backups and a free agent off the street. Granted, they did hold their own — Cam was only sacked twice and the running game was mostly effective. That said, they did have some costly penalties.

When it comes to drafting, the Panthers have ignored the offense and mostly built the defense. However, in recent drafts, they‘ve scrambled to find weapons for their franchise quarterback. In 2018, they spent their first and fourth-round picks on offense. had a 53-yard touchdown today and Ian Thomas had a few grabs, but they haven‘t contributed much at this point.

In 2017, the Panthers spent their first, second, third, and fifth picks on offense. Christian McCaffrey looks like the player they wanted. Curtis Samuel has shown flashes but can‘t stay healthy. Taylor Moton is only seeing the field due to injuries to the offensive line, and Alex Armah is the only fullback on the roster.

In 2016, every pick was a defensive player. In 2015, two picks were used on offense. Devin Funchess hasn‘t materialized into the number one receiver they‘d hoped and Cameron Artis-Payne hasn‘t seen consistent playing time since coming into the league.

In 2014, the Panthers drafted Kelvin Benjamin, who . Trai Turner has been good when healthy. In 2013, they selected a guard and a running back, neither of which made an impact.

The Panthers have long ignored the offense, electing to let Cam Newton carry them as far as he can — and it worked. His career record is 65-47-1. He has numerous passing and rushing records and has led them to the playoffs four times, including to the Super Bowl once. However, he can only do so much, as proven by this week‘s loss and the playoff loss last season.

Today, Cam was 32-45 for 335 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. According to Bill Riccette of USA Today, Cam suffered a vicious hit, was tested for a concussion, and then returned to lead the offense. There were approximately seven drops; Funchess had two drops, Ian Thomas, Jarius Wright and Torrey Smith had one, and C.J. Anderson dropped two in a row — the latter falling right into the hands of a defender for the interception. The game once again came down to a last-second heave, and rookie D.J. Moore couldn‘t come up with a tough catch in the end zone.

Time and again, Cam does everything only to be let down. Just a regular Sunday for the Panthers.

This news article has been verified through:

  • https://pantherswire.usatoday/2018/09/16/4-takeaways-from-a-tough-panthers-loss-to-the-falcons/
  • https://www.cbssports/fantasy/football/news/panthers-greg-olsen-targeting-return-in-4-to-5-weeks/