The NFL decided to make pass interference plays reviewable because of the way the New Orleans Saints were cheated out of a trip to the Super Bowl last year, but the new rule worked against the Saints late in their game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.
With the score tied 31-31 and the Panthers facing 3rd-and-goal from the 5-yard line, Kyle Allen tried to complete a pass on a crossing route to Jarius Wright, but it fell incomplete. No flag was thrown, but Carolina coach Ron Rivera challenged the play after it appeared Wright was grabbed by a Saints defender. The Panthers won the challenge.
There was definitely some contact on the play, but officials have shown a borderline refusal to overturn pass interference calls and no-calls all season. It seems like we see an egregious pass interference penalty every week that isn’t called but is upheld upon review. Although, the Oakland Raiders won a pass interference challenge earlier on Sunday, so perhaps the NFL is trying to change the narrative.
The football gods may have felt the Saints have suffered enough after they were victims of one of the worst calls in NFL history last year, because the New Orleans defense stood tall and Panthers kicker Joey Slye missed a chip shot field goal.
Eric Reid remains one of Colin Kaepernick’s closest allies within the NFL, and he’s still going out of his way to try to get his former teammate a job.
Reid said Wednesday that he had gone to Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper when starting quarterback Cam Newton was placed on injured reserve, urging ownership to sign Kaepernick.
Reid is definitely still lobbying for Kaepernick. The Panthers safety has long been one of his staunchest defenders, and originally did protest with Kaepernick. Reid has been given a job again and he wants the same for Kaepernick, and he’s willing to go straight to ownership to try to make that happen.
Kaepernick appears closer than ever to getting another shot in the NFL. Reid will undoubtedly be pleased by that.
Cam Newton will technically be eligible to return from injured reserve if the Panthers make it to the postseason, but he has almost certainly played his last down of football this season. His tenure in Carolina may have all but come to a close, as well.
Newton is considering having surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury in his foot, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports. He initially was going to opt for rest and rehab, but now that he has been placed on injured reserve he is taking more of a long-term approach. With the way things have unfolded since Kyle Allen took over the starting job, Newton’s long-term future may be with another team.
Rapoport said Newton wants to keep playing in 2020 despite the numerous injuries that have plagued him over the past two seasons, but the reporter considers it “highly unlikely” that the Newton will remain with the Panthers. The former NFL MVP is due 18.6 million next year, and his contract is similar to that of Joe Flacco, who was traded from the Ravens to the Broncos last offseason.
In addition to his steady play on the field, Allen’s contract situation may also be appealing to the Panthers. He has just one accrued NFL season after spending most of last season on the practice squad, and he was technically cut from his rookie contract and brought back. Since he is no longer on a rookie deal, he is eligible for a contract extension at any time. If Carolina believes he is a franchise quarterback, they could extend him this offseason with a deal that will likely be quite reasonable by starting QB standards.
Newton appeared to hint in a recent social media post that his days with the Panthers are numbered. Unless Allen completely falls on his face over the last two months of the season, he seems like he’s going to keep his starting job in 2020 and potentially beyond.
We are more or less at the halfway point of the NFL season, meaning the most meaningful games are right around the corner. That makes this week’s action all the more intriguing. Add in the fact that the trade deadline is looming, and there’s a lot of incentive for teams to show their best selves this week to enable front offices to select the best course of action.
So who stood out and who fell short? Here are ten big disappointments from NFL Week 8.
The Bills faced very real questions about how legitimate they were as a 5-1 team. They failed to answer those questions on Sunday with a very poor performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, who had a lot to prove themselves. The Bills were gashed on the ground, giving up 218 rushing yards, while the offense barely surpassed 250 yards. The Bills have had a lot of success leaning on their pass defense and doing enough on offense, but when Philadelphia ran so successfully, that gameplan was blown up. It’s not easy to replicate, but the Bills definitely look more vulnerable now than they did before.
Absolutely dreadful in every aspect. It was no secret that the Panthers would be in for a tough day against San Francisco’s defense, and that played out. Kyle Allen threw for only 158 yards and was picked off three times, while Christian McCaffrey was basically the only player who could do anything on offense. Defensively, it was even more embarrassing. The 49ers aren’t really known for being a dominant offense, but they put up 388 total yards and 51 points on the helpless Panthers. This was bad all around.
There has been a lot of talk about Cam Newton potentially riding the bench behind Kyle Allen even when the former MVP’s foot is fully healed. If that happens, it might be the first step toward Newton’s time with the Carolina Panthers coming to an end.
Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report reported over the weekend that there are “more than a few people in the league” who believe Allen will remain the Panthers’ starting quarterback and Newton will be playing elsewhere in 2020.
Newton has just one year remaining on his contract after this season. If the Panthers chose to release him after the year is over, they would save roughly $19 million against the salary cap. They could also trade the 30-year-old, which would mean the team that acquired him would inherit his $21.1 million cap number for 2020.
Believe it or not, trading Newton sounds like a viable option if Allen continues to succeed. One AFC general manager told Freeman that the market for Newton would be “robust” if the Panthers made him available, with as many as 10 teams interested. Though, there are other teams that do not believe Newton has much left. Executives that work for teams in the latter group are under the impression that the Panthers wonder if Newton will never be the same again.
Winning is really all that matters for NFL quarterbacks. There’s obviously a case to be made that Newton is far more talented than the undrafted Allen, but at least one opposing coach seems to think Allen is a better fit for Carolina at the moment. Injuries have obviously been a major issue for Newton in recent years, but it’s fair to wonder if that will always be the case. The Panthers have a better understanding of that than any other team, and what they chose to do after Newton is “healthy” will be quite telling.
Kyle Allen on Sunday led the Carolina Panthers to their fourth consecutive win, and questions continue to pile up about what the team will do when Cam Newton is fully recovered from his foot injury. For the time being, head coach Ron Rivera is not going to address those questions.
Following his team’s 37-26 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, Rivera was asked if there is a potential quarterback controversy brewing. He offered a very simple response.
The Panthers have a bye in Week 7, and it’s unclear if Newton will be ready to return to practice next week. What we do know is that he is not going to play until he is 100 percent healthy, and Allen’s performance has, at the very least, given Carolina the luxury of not having to rush anything.
Allen has thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions through four games. While he has not been lighting the stat sheet on fire, the former undrafted free agent is consistently putting the Panthers in position to win. One report on Sunday indicated Allen might keep the starting job even when Newton is cleared, and that will almost certainly be the case if Carolina continues to win.
If fans in London were confused by what was going on to close out the first half of Sunday’s game between the Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they certainly were not alone.
Trailing 17-7 with eight seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Bucs were about to punt the ball away to Carolina from their own 26-yard line when three consecutive pre-snap penalties backed them up to the 11. At that point, the Panthers decided they wanted to try what is known as a fair catch kick.
Most fans in America had no idea what that was, but it is an option a receiving team has if they want to attempt an uncontested field goal after a fair catch on a punt return. The decision gave Panthers rookie kicker Joey Slye a 60-yard attempt, but he missed it wide right.
Former NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino explained the play further, noting that is has not been used since 2013.
Many fans in London have had to learn the rules of American football, and their American counterparts joined them in that for a short period on Sunday. I can personally say a fair catch kick is something I have never seen, and even I had no idea what it was.
The Carolina Panthers have not lost a game since Kyle Allen took over for the injured Cam Newton, and there is a chance Newton could remain on the bench even when he’s fully healthy if that theme continues.
Newton has not yet resumed practicing, and the Panthers will not even consider having him play in an actual game again until his foot injury is 100 percent healed. In addition, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Panthers have acknowledged Newton will not necessarily get his starting job back if Allen keeps leading the team to wins.
One team source told Rapoport that “the status quo reigns” as long as the results stay the way they are. Something like a bad performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London on Sunday could set the stage for Newton to return under center, but it is not a sure thing that the former MVP will even be healthy enough to practice after Carolina’s Week 7 bye.
Allen has five touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 107.4 in three games. Newton has not played up to his potential in quite some time, but he dealt with a shoulder injury late last season and then a lingering foot issue this year. We recently saw what looked like a positive development with his health, but it sounds like anything but a lock that we will see him back on the field in Week 8.
Thursday night’s Carolina Panthers-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game hinged on two 4th-down plays for the Panthers. In both cases, the Panthers called terrible plays that blew up on them in their 20-14 loss.
The Panthers turned the ball over on downs three times in the game, including twice in their final three drives. All three came on 4th-and-1 plays.
The first one of the two fourth quarter plays came on a 4th-and-1 from the Tampa Bay 45 down 17-14. Carolina called a pass from the shotgun, and under pressure, Cam Newton hoisted a ball in the air that was not close enough to Curtis Samuel and fell incomplete. The second one came with a minute and a half left and the ball at the Tampa Bay two. Carolina called a trick play that involved a direct snap to Christian McCaffrey, who faked a handoff and rushed on a sweep. He was pushed out of bounds short of the first down spot.
The best short-yardage play in the NFL is the quarterback sneak. As Warren Sharp has pointed out, QB sneaks result in a first down about 78 percent of the time. And the Panthers didn’t call it once. Three 4th-and-1 situations, not one QB sneak called.
“We felt Christian had a good chance to score. We felt good about the play,” Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said after the game.
Rivera was asked why the team didn’t run Cam Newton on the play and whether a foot injury limited the quarterback.
“The foot’s got nothing to do with it,” said Rivera.
Carolina did run Cam on a 4th-and-1 near midfield on their opening possession. He ran wide for no gain.
Even if Newton isn’t healthy and can’t run, just sub in your backup quarterback to run the sneak. That was the game and that’s the reason they lost.
The New Orleans Pelicans nabbed Zion Williamson first overall in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, which led to a lot of wider attention from the sports world. Some of that attention came from a somewhat unlikely source.
As Williamson is a North Carolina native, the Carolina Panthers’ Twitter account saw fit to wish Williamson good luck after the Pelicans drafted him. The Pelicans’ Twitter account, however, was quick to ask why the NFL team hadn’t bothered congratulating any of the Charlotte Hornets’ draftees.
The New Orleans Saints, who in addition to sharing a city with the Pelicans are also the Panthers’ division rivals, wasted no time getting in on the fun.
Is it a bit excessive considering Williamson is from North Carolina? Maybe. But it’s fun, makes for some harmless Twitter drama, and increases the visibility of the accounts involved, which is the entire point.