Who would have thought that the minute Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning took the field in Super Bowl 50, they would both be playing in their last meaningful game?
A bold statement, yes, but bold is what has been missing from the offense since the end of 2015.
I suppose you could call me a Newton hater even though I really do believe he probably has a little something left in the tank. However, in my opinion, the Los Angeles and Tampa Bay losses were a goodbye tour for Newton in Carolina. He looked tired and worn down as I feel in the mornings when my alarm clock goes off after my newborn daughter has kept me up all night.
Kyle Allen is here to stay in Charlotte.
Under center so far, Allen has provided a dynamic spark to Carolina’s offense and given fans the most entertaining football in quite some time. He’s been able to get into a rhythm early in games, throwing bullets to tight end Greg Olsen over the middle as his security blanket. He connected with six different receivers against the Houston Texans in a win for the Panthers.
Allen is connecting on similar routes Newton has missed over the past few seasons, sailing balls high over receivers’ heads.
The former Texas A&M Aggie didn’t throw a touchdown pass against Houston but the week before in the second quarter versus the Arizona Cardinals, he throw a score to Curtis Samuel that was a thing of beauty. Allen stepped up in the pocket, avoided sacks (for the most part) and threw balls on a rope to both corners of the field.
The accuracy was a lightning rod for the receiving corp.
In an open field situation, I think most defenders in the NFL would be hard pressed to keep D.J. Moore or Samuel out of the end zone, and Carolina finally has someone who can consistently get them the football.
What if Newton returns and the Panthers suffer through another 7-9 season? Do you really want to continually watch Newton miss open receivers and fail to move the chains drive after drive? Can you imagine what was going through Samuel’s head when he finally realized he had a chance to consistently get the ball?
I wish I was a fly on the wall in the receivers room after practice that week because morale has to be higher than it’s been in some time.
Against the J.J. Watt-led Texans defense, Allen threw for 232 yards on 24 of 34 pass attempts. Again, no touchdowns, but no picks either. His accuracy has also opened up the run game for Christian McCaffrey as the Panthers headed back to Charlotte to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday at 2-2.
Head coach Ron Rivera faces a decision that will determine his future in Carolina. Does he go back to a declining Newton in an effort to see if he can regain the magic or does he decide to keep betting on Allen’s hot hand?
Ultimately, the performance of Allen will directly impact if Rivera packs up ad calls his realtor or stays put in the Queen City.