Carolina Panthers: Can’t Ride Newton Forever


So the Carolina Panthers defeated the Houston Texans 24-17 in the longest game that the franchise has ever played. That was good. Cam Newton scored three times including a rushing touchdown. He accounted for most of the total offense of the team, adding seventy rushing yards to 195 passing yards. This script sounds familiar does it not?

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Last year the Panthers depended on Newton to make things happen in any game that was not against Tampa Bay. The Panthers had late season success because they developed some balance as Jonathan Stewart began producing. By the end, the Panthers had a balanced ground and passing attack mated to a good defense. The result was that they ran out of steam against the Seattle Seahawks, a team that did those things better.

Here we are again, leaning on Newton. The running game again is absent while Kelvin Benjamin watches games from the sidelines. Balance is missing. The Panthers are 2-0 because the teams that they have played were not good teams. Jacksonville is a year into the Blake Bortles project, and Houston is trying to recast an offense built around Arian Foster. The Panthers did enough to hold them at bay.

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What is going to happen when the Panthers play good teams? The Panthers have them on the schedule. Seattle, Green Bay, and Indianapolis are all there. One also has to consider the rise of the Atlanta Falcons around that list. That collection of five games is the difference between first round bye and trying to earn a Wild Card spot. A crazy NFC East looks like it might yield a 9-7 or 8-8 champ, so a 10-6 record might leave the Panthers on the outside looking in.

The Cam Newton Show, without any additions, will not stand up well to Seattle’s D. They live for one dimensional attacks. Green Bay and Indianapolis have a greater shot of simply scoring too much for Newton to match without help from turnovers and perhaps a defensive score.

A little balance would go a long way to add some clarity to season that has already been full of surprises.

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