Those lacking the actual sense to analyze a football game will draw the conclusion that Cam Newton hasn’t played good football this season. These stat heads will point to his eight interceptions and career-low 80.1 rating as indicators that the former No. 1 overall pick has played poorly this season.
They will also ignore the fact that Carolina’s front office, led by Dave Gettleman, failed its franchise quarterback at every possible turn during the offseason. And that’s the primary reason for the team’s 3-6-1 record heading into Week 11.
Left tackle Jordan Gross announced his retirement in late February, which gave the front office an entire offseason to find a blindside protector for Newton, something that EVERY young quarterback needs.
What did Gettleman and Co. do? Absolutely nothing.
Byron Bell has started nine games at left tackle this season. And according to Pro Football Focus, he grades out as the second-worst offensive tackle in the entire NFL through 10 weeks.
At right tackle sits Nate Chandler, who has yielded 28 quarterback hurries and six sacks in 10 games.
One of the primary reasons for the continued progression of young quarterbacks is the ability of offensive tackles to pass protect. And as evidenced by the NINE sacks that Carolina yielded to the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday night, this simply isn’t happening right now.
Speaking of the Eagles game, it was an absolute disaster in every possible way for Carolina’s offense. A banged-up Newton didn’t stand a chance throughout the duration of the night, which resulted in a humiliating 45-21 loss for the Panthers. All said, Newton was hit 10 times and hurried a total of 17 times throughout the evening.
It almost seemed like the enigmatic young quarterback had done something really bad to one (or all) of the Panthers starting offensive linemen in this one.
— Robert Littal BSO (@BSO) November 11, 2014
In terms of a running game, Carolina did put up over 100 yards on 32 attempts. But Newton’s starting backfield partner, DeAngelo Williams, was as embarrassing in pass protection as the offensive line.
Then you have the wide receiver group. At one point on Monday, former Minnesota Vikings quarterback Joe Webb was lining up on the outside to catch passes from Newton.
Is that really putting your young quarterback in the best situation to succeed?
Considering Carolina released Steve Smith and let both Ted Ginn and Brandon LaFell walk in the offseason, this one scribe would probably indicate that the Panthers front office dropped the ball big time here.
If Gettleman honestly believed a one-route runner in the form of rookie Kelvin Benjamin was going to be the answer here, he should be fired immediately. Let’s not even get into the false hope that Jerricho Cotchery and Jason Avant would make up for those losses. While taking nothing away from Benjamin’s potential, pretty much everyone knew that the Panthers wide receiver group was going to be a disaster this season. Except of course, Mr. Gettleman himself.
The likes of Philly Brown, Brenton Bersin, Cotchery and Avant have represented 40 percent of Newton’s targets this season. Did the Panthers come into the 2014 season thinking they had traded a young quarterback for Tom Brady? I ask this because it’s rather obvious that they expected way too much from a quarterback that is still learning the tricks of the trade in the NFL.
No left tackle, an abomination at right tackle, two horrible guards, a rookie No. 1 receiver, two washed-up secondary receivers…
Well you get the point here.
It even got to the point on Monday night where one bright individual suggested that Newton should file a grievance of his own against the Panthers front office for their offseason performance.
Speaking of grievances: Cam Newton should file one against the Panthers front office for this past offseason.
— Vincent Frank (@VincentFrankNFL) November 11, 2014
This is an opinion that was shared by many who actually took time to watch the travesty of a football team that we call the Carolina Panthers on Monday night.
You simply cannot put a young quarterback in this type of situation and expect him to succeed. And doing so after he led your franchise to a playoff berth and division title the year prior makes this even more embarrassing for the team.
As a result, Dave Gettleman should quickly find himself out of a job. If for no other reason but the simple fact that he may have very well disabled Newton’s ability to turn into the franchise quarterback that most of us believed he would be at this point.
Let’s just hope that Newton either moves on from the Panthers at some point soon or the team finds someone (anyone) competent enough to understand what it takes to build a talented team around one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league.
If not, Newton is going to continue to take the vast majority of the heat for a front office that has quickly become one of the worst in the NFL. And in the process, he will find himself on the ground (literally) more often than not.
Photo: USA Today