Unfortunately for Cam Newton the struggles continued against the Philadelphia Eagles. By looking just at the stat line, the numbers don’t look awful considering he threw for over 300 yards, completed 62.5 percent of his passes and two touchdowns.
The problem is that the majority of those stats came in the fourth quarter when the game was already out of reach. The prior three quarters were not as kind to Newton, who was a sitting duck for Eagles defenders, particularly Connor Barwin.
The biggest concern is that Newton just looked out sync with his wide receivers, which is troubling considering this is Week 10 and Carolina is coming off a 10 day break between games. The practice time up to this point should have given the Panthers quarterback plenty of time to get on the same page as his wide receivers.
I know it isn’t popular but I am giving Newton a little bit of a break based on his performance last night, particularly because of how bad his offensive line is.
This is one position that is just mind boggling to me. The Panthers rushing attack has been almost non-existent for the 2014 season with Cam Newton registering the only 100-yard rushing game this year.
The reason it is so frustrating to watch this run game is that Carolina has a running back that has played very well but they continue to under-utilize him. Since his return three weeks ago, Jonathan Stewart has ran hard and been somewhat effective behind the weak offensive line.
However, the coaching staff is trying to do a running back by committee by splitting the carries between DeAngelo Williams and Stewart. The problem is the Panthers need a running back that is going to be able to run through initial contact, which is usually happening at the line of scrimmage or in the backfield. Williams is not that kind of running back but Stewart is.
Against the Eagles, Williams got 13 carries and gained 31 yards for 2.4 yards per carry average. Stewart on the other hand got 11 carries but gained 36 yards for 3.3 yards per carry average. Now these numbers aren’t great but it may be enough to give Stewart a chance to be a featured back and see what kind of performance he can have.
It was an average to below average performance for the wide receiver position. Kelvin Benjamin finished the game strong with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter but again at this point the game was out of reach and the stats don’t mean as much.
One thing that is apparent though is that the wide receiver position needs more speed with Cotchery and Avant being very similar possession type receivers. If the Panthers could find a way to incorporate Philly Brown or even Joe Webb into the game plan and take a few shots down the field, it could help open this offense up some.
If there is one player who showed up against the Eagles it was tight end Greg Olsen. After a few weeks of being very quiet, Olsen showed up in a big way with six receptions for 116 yards. This is the one player who can make a world of difference for the Panthers offense if he is heavily involved.
The first touchdown drive for the Panthers that cut the Eagles lead to 17-7 is a perfect example of the good things that happen when Olsen is involved. The Panthers tight end had the big play on that drive with a beautiful catch for 38 yards.
Where to start with the offensive line? This is a group that has been decimated by injuries over the past couple of weeks but looked to be much stronger entering this game against Philadelphia. Guard Amini Silatolu was returning to play left guard and the Panthers moved Andrew Norwell to right guard, who filled in nicely for Silatolu.
Well the results just weren’t there with the Panthers giving up nine sacks and 10 QB hits. The biggest issue was the left side of the offensive line with Byron Bell and Silatolu struggling to find an answer to Connor Barwin, who finished the game with 3.5 sacks and four QB hits by himself.
Until the offense gets better production from their offensive line, this side of the ball is going to struggle to put up points.