Cam Newton’s benching is another sign that the Carolina Panthers are in disarray this season. The team will try to determine who their future at quarterback when they take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but it remains unclear whether or not recent acquisition Taylor Heinicke can win the job outright.
The Carolina Panthers’ future at quarterback is more muddled than ever after Cam Newton was benched. With the team’s future uncertain, it’s hard to predict what will happen next. Read more in detail here: north carolina panthers.
MIAMI (AP) — After the Carolina Panthers’ 33-10 defeat to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, quarterback Cam Newton says there’s no need to worry.
This happened only a week after he implored everyone to “hang on” and “believe” him after the team’s defeat to the Washington Redskins.
Perhaps now is the moment to worry, since who can the Panthers trust?
Despite a 2-0 record in the NFC South and four of their last five games against division opponents, Carolina is 0-2 since Newton took over as the starter, and their postseason aspirations seem to be on life support as the Panthers (5-7) approach their Week 13 bye.
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There are, however, no assurances. And if he performs as poorly in the last five games as he did in South Florida on Sunday, the Panthers will once again be looking for a starting quarterback.
During the broadcast, Fox commentator Moose Johnston highlighted this, stating the Panthers need to work out their quarterback situation. He didn’t rule out Darnold having a chance to prove he’s a viable option.
“But Matt Rhule’s status is still up in the air,” Johnston remarked.
Darnold (shoulder) resumed throwing this week, according to Rhule, and will be examined when the team returns from its bye week.
Unless anything changes, Darnold will be the league’s highest-paid backup next season, as the Panthers are committed to pay him $18.8 million in 2022 after picking up his fifth-year option after acquiring him in the New York Jets trade.
And no club would trade for Darnold at that price unless the Panthers agreed to pay a portion of his contract.
That isn’t out of the question for them. They’ve already paid $7 million on top of the $10 million Teddy Bridgewater was promised after trading him to Denver for a sixth-round selection. Bridgewater will only be paid $3 million by the Broncos in 2021.
Carolina will take a $4.7 million cap charge on Darnold this season, on top of the $18.8 million it will pay him next year, and a $6 million salary hit on Newton this year, with $4.5 million guaranteed.
Newton is 32 years old, and his playing style has resulted in his taking more hits than any other quarterback since 2011. He is unlikely to have many more excellent years ahead of him.
He may not have any, if Sunday is any clue.
His 23.8 completion % was the lowest ever recorded by a former NFL MVP with at least 20 throw attempts. In 2015, the year Newton won the MVP, Peyton Manning had similar distinction with a 25 percent completion rate in a game.
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After defeating Newton and the Panthers in the Super Bowl that season, Manning announced his retirement.
If Newton does not recover, the Panthers will look for a quarterback in free agency. It’s quite doubtful that Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson would want to leave their respective clubs to come to Carolina, so that isn’t an option.
There don’t seem to be any sure-fire fixes in the draft, at least for the time being.
As a result, Sunday’s defeat and Newton’s performance muddied everything going forward. The one certainty is that Rhule will not overreact and will remain focused on the next game as usual.
His first objective is to find out how to defeat teams who have found out the “formula” for defeating the Panthers: stop the run and pressure the quarterback.
The fact that the offense suffers against zero blitzes, like it did on Sunday, adds to the confusion. It’s difficult to judge Newton when so many other things are going wrong, but there are still things he might have done to alleviate the burden.
Making the appropriate selections, passing to the right receiver, and throwing with better timing were all things Miami struggled with.
“We need our quarterbacks to make plays and guide us through,” Rhule said. “The quarterback can only be as good as the guys around him, but he can help them improve.”
“Every week, we’ll basically analyze everything.” We haven’t reached the conclusion of the season yet. We’re not making a broad proclamation about the future.”