Cam Newton Needs Help at Wide Receiver
This has been a storyline for the Carolina Panthers the entire season but it seems like it is becoming a bigger issue each passing week. Cam Newton finished with a season-high three interceptions against the Eagles but only one was really his fault. The first interception, which a case could be made was a fumble or not a turnover at all, was in Ted Ginn Jr. hands but wrestled away by Nolan Carroll as the two players fell to the ground. Then in the second half, Newton threw a pass to rookie Devin Funchess that went right through his hands and into the arms of Byron Maxwell.
Almost every week, the Panthers wide receivers have had key drops but they haven't always resulted in turnovers and been a major issue. This week though the Eagles defensive backs were able to capitalize and it was one of the reasons the game was as close as it was. The loss of Kelvin Benjamin was going to be huge for this offense but the team hoped the rest of the group would be able to step up. The Panthers wide receivers really need to fix this drop issue to help Newton and stop beating themselves.
Jonathan Stewart Builds Off Strong Game Against Seattle
This is what the front office envisioned when they turned the keys of the running game over to Jonathan Stewart. After carrying the ball 20 times for 78 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Seattle Seahawks, he registered his first 100 rushing yard game of the season. He finished Week 7 with 125 rushing yards on 24 carries and was the key the Panthers' offense against the Eagles.
If the Panthers' passing game is going to continue to struggle, this offense is going to need these type of games from Stewart. The question then becomes, 'Should the Panthers give Stewart the ball 20 times a game?'.
During Stewart's eight years in the NFL, he has had only one year with over 200 rushing attempts which came in 2009. After tonight's game against the Eagles, Stewart is already at 100 carries. Unfortunately, the team may not have a choice but to keep giving the ball to Stewart due to the lack of weapons on the outside.
Panthers Have Stars at Every Level of their Defense
Most fans know the names Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis but this defense boosts other players who is playing some of the best football in the NFL at their respective positions. After winning NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance last week, defensive tackle Kawann Short followed it up with two more sacks, three tackles for a loss, six total tackles and one pass defended. It seemed like Short lived in the Eagles backfield on Sunday.
In the secondary, the team has a shutdown cornerback in Josh Norman who may not be getting the turnover numbers he was earlier in the season but still playing at a high level. One of the reasons for the lack of turnovers may be because of the fact that opposing quarterbacks just don't want to throw his way. Norman did have a key play at the end of the first half that could have drastically changed the outcome of this game. After Newton's interception, Sam Bradford looked Norman's way and tried to sneak a pass by him. However, he laid out to knock the ball down in the end zone and the Eagles had to settle for a field goal.
The best part for this Panthers' team is the fact that they were playing without key starters, including outside linebacker Shaq Thompson and defensive end Charles Johnson,who is currently on injured reserve but was designated to return. The addition of these two players should make this defense even tougher to score points on.
The Panthers have developed a winning formula for this team but a major part of that formula is this dominating defense. As long as the defense keeps playing at this level, this is going to be a tough team to beat.