|The boos are real, and so are the Carolina Panthers’ struggles|
|0-2 hole as offense stumbles for consistency|
|Published Sunday, September 15, 2019 9:15 pm|
|PHOTO | CURTIS WILSON|
|Cam Newton has completed 56.1% of his passes for Carolina, which has struggled for offensive consistency in a 0-2 start to the season, with both losses at home.|
Cam Newton hears the booing. He knows they’re deserved.
After a gaffe-filled outing by the Carolina Panthers offense in a 20-14 loss to Tampa Bay that dropped them to 0-2, Newton understands the frustration of a fan base that expected more from a team with Super Bowl expectations. What’s worse is both losses were at Bank of America Stadium.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Newton, who has lost eight straight games as Carolina’s starting quarterback going back to last season. “I hear fans. You’re not going to deny the fact that coming off the field at times or third down…it’s just unacceptable.”
To say Carolina’s offense is inconsistent would be an understatement, especially after surrounding Newton with arguably the best line and skill position players in his nine NFL seasons.
“We gave up a sack at an inopportune moment,” coach Ron Rivera said. “We had a penalty at another bad moment. We missed a throw at another bad moment. Maybe we could have called something different. It’s a mix, a combination of things that obviously we will take a look at and hopefully get those things corrected as we go forward.”
Newton, who has no restrictions on his surgically repaired right shoulder, is a pedestrian 50-of-89 passing for 572 yards and no touchdowns. Most of his passes are check-downs or intermediate routes, but a 56.1% completion rate isn’t correlating to vertical success. Also missing is Newton’s skill as runner, which until last year’s shoulder issues made him the league’s best dual-threat quarterback.
Carolina, which managed four Joey Slye field goals and a Luke Kuechly safety against Tampa Bay, could’ve used that version of Newton. So, yeah, he understands fans’ frustration.
“It’s not what I think, it’s what I need to do, and you can’t blame them,” Newton admits. “They deserve better, the defense deserves better and offensively we’ve got to conjure up more points, and it starts with myself.”
Newton is far from the only reason why Carolina’s offense is struggling.
Turnovers, sketchy pass blocking and curious play calling have bitten the Panthers over the first two weeks. Tampa Bay sacked Newton three times as left tackle Daryl Williams had trouble with the Bucs’ pass rush.
Christian McCaffrey, who accounted for 209 scrimmage yards against the Los Angeles Rams in the opener, was limited to 53 against Tampa Bay. And there was the curious call late in the fourth quarter when Carolina passed up a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-inches from the Bucs’ 1 or a sweep around left end with McCaffrey. He didn’t make it and Tampa Bay ran out the clock.
“Well …we felt had a good opportunity to score,” Rivera said. “So we went fake-reverse ghost action, trying to deke them a little bit. We had every opportunity. We thought we could at least get the first down but unfortunately, we didn’t.”
Would Newton, who is 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, preferred to have the ball wit a chance to earn a first down, if not score in that situation?
“Of course, but you’re not going to have me sit up here and say what I would’ve called differently. I accept full responsibility for making sure offensively I do my part and I uphold my end of the bargain. That’s the only thing I that can say right now.”
The defense and special teams have, for the most part, done their job, but need more offensive support in order to turn the season around. It’s no time to panic, according to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy.
“You just stay positive. It’s just two games. We’ve seen, across the league, many teams start slow and then get on a run. You know this team does it: started slow and then hauled off 10 straight. It can happen, but you don’t want to start a season like that, especially at home.”
I’m shameful to say it that way and it came down to that to not put up points, but, hey, at the end of the day it’s the National Football League,” he said. “Some games you’re lights out and you can’t miss and some games you miss. At this point in time, it’s up to us offensively to do better because our team is giving us opportunities.”
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