The Panthers dramatic losing streak has now been extended to six games and it’s growing more and more clear as to where we can place most of the blame for this catastrophe of a season. The infamous shoulder problem that quarterback Cam Newton has been bearing for multiple seasons now is becoming more and more of a burden to the team as the season grows on. I commend Cam for his toughness and willingness to step out onto that field every week, without any excuse, but its painfully obvious that he can’t continue to play anymore this season.
Watching Newton last night turned any kind of speculation into the harsh reality that we were all expecting. He’s done this season. You can see it in his press game conferences, he’s expressions and body language are that of pure defeat and he’s officially out of answers. He doesn’t know whats happening with his body, he even stated that he doesn’t even know what kind of injury he is dealing with.
“I wish I could say what the injury is because I don’t really know what it is either.” Newton said. “No matter how much you push, no matter how much you ice — You just don’t have the strength.”
He’s frustrated, and has all the right to be. He probably shouldn’t have played a single down this season. It’s tough to say that because he started off on such a great roll. Recency bias makes it hard to forget that we was arguably a top three MVP candidate after eight games this year. However, the flaws his shoulder are giving him are now being exposed every week.
Starting back at the beginning of the losing streak against Pittsburgh, there’s much speculation that the beginning of Cam’s struggles are due to a hit given by Steelers defensive end, T.J. Watt.
Its worth noting that prior to this game, Newton stated that he was playing the best football of his career, and he was right, all of his stats were up, he wasn’t throwing the deep ball effectively, but at that point in the season, that was just a minor flaw in the offense. After that hit, Newton has turned around to play some of the worst football of his career, as he progressively gets worse and worse as the weeks go on.
It’s painful to watch as a fan of the team. Newton has notoriously been known as a running quarterback with a cannon of a arm. We’ve seen him launch footballs damn near out of the stadium. Now he’s struggling to get the ball 10 yards down field. In the recent past, when Newton has been inaccurate, its usually been high and above the receiver, where really no one involved in the play can catch it. Last night against New Orleans he was throwing balls into the dirt to guys that were 5 yards away from him.
It appears he literally has no idea where the ball is going to go when he releases it at this point. He almost looks like Philadelphia 76ers point guard, Markelle Fultz, when he shoots a basketball. Cam’s range of motion isn’t there, there’s absolutely no juice coming off of the ball, this isn’t Cam Newton and it’s painful to watch.
Newton is too stubborn to bench himself. I don’t blame him, you want to be there for your team, through the good times and the bad. He’s the leader of this team and is willing to sink with this ship. It’s up to Rivera and co. to make the executive decision to pull him for his own sake. The Panthers now have under a 1% chance to make the playoffs as they sit behind three teams for the very last spot in the playoffs.
They have to play Atlanta next week who they have already lost to, and of course they travel to New Orleans in the final week of the season to play the Saints, which could likely decide whether or not New Orleans get’s home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Both of these games are going to played with a lot of emotion as they are division rivals and Carolina will be seeking revenge. This isn’t the type of environment you would want your injured quarterback going into. Either way, Carolina’s playoff chances aren’t looking too good and it sounds like Rivera is ready to send him back out there next week.
This would be a grave mistake. The best thing this team can do for Cam is sit him now, let him get surgery almost a month earlier than he would be and allow him to heal and potentially be ready for OTA’s, and all of training camp for next off-season.
Restore some faith.