Just finished binge watching the new ‘Carolina Panthers – All or Nothing ‘ series on Amazon Prime. Ive got some thoughts. But before that, if you are a Panthers fan, you should DEFINITELY check it out. You can do a 30 day free trial of Amazon Prime and cancel after you finish if you’re worried about paying the monthly fee.
Some quick observations….
- Cam Newton is the heart and soul of this team. And the unquestioned leader. Many of us knew this before, but there were always doubters who questioned why we never saw Cam going around the bench, pumping teammates up after mistakes, being that guy. Well guess what? Apparently, Cam has been doing these things for quite awhile on the sidelines….the network cameras simply dont show it. They would rather have the optic of Cam with a towel over his head. The documentary showed Newton in leadership roles we typically do not see, and he gets unfairly critiqued for it. Well, apparently thats not the case.
- Cam Newton wasn’t throwing short passes at the start of the year due to injury. It was by design. Cam uncorks a number of long passes early in the 2018 campaign. Its not until having to throw 22 passes in the 4th quarter comeback win at Philly and then taking a TJ Watt hit directly to his repaired shoulder Week 10 at Pittsburgh in a 52-21 blowout that Newton began to feel the full effects of the injured arm. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner was using the full range of weapons at his disposal and I expect a similar offense this season.
- Greg Olsen the most important cog of the offense. Olsen is a top 5 TE in the league. He’s Cam Newton’s security blanket. Newton feels more calmer in the pocket when Olsen is out there. Hopefully Olsen’s foot is completely healed and he can end his career the right way.
- Donte Jackson has potential to be one of the best. The cornerback had an up and down rookie season, snaring 4 interceptions in the first 8 games…then getting burned by Antonio Brown for a long TD on Thursday Night Football. Vets from the secondary sit Jackson down halfway through the year to explain to him that hes making the same mistakes repeatedly and needs to control it to be the best. It remains to be seen if Jackson took the words to heart, but he definitely has the skill set to be a top 5 CB in the league, possibly as early as this upcoming season.
- Ron Rivera and Norv Turner like to curse. And we like it. Ever hear Panthers fans complain about Rivera’s stoic appearance on the sidelines? How he never shows emotion and they want some one else like a Bill Cowher, that screams on the sidelines every chance they get? I proudly invite you to watch this series….as Rivera, with his team getting slapped around in Pittsburgh, lights up the team in the locker room in a way NO Panther fan has ever had access to. It showed that Rivera has a switch, he IS a former member of the 85 Bears after all. It was refreshing to see Rivera dropping f-bombs and commanding his guys to find someone and hit them in the mouth. Turner meanwhile had come of as the comfortable dad, just calling plays…hes really more of a mad scientist in the booth, playing with a toy in Newton that he’s never really had in his career. He curses like a sailor also. Id pay to have a channel that just had Rivera and Turner mic’ed up during a game. Its that good.
- Panthers are going to be GOOD in 2019 Between a healthy Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey entering his 3rd season after flirting with being only the 3rd player ever to get 1000 yards in both rushing and receiving in a season, Olsen fully healthy, a young WR corp led by talented early round picks, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel…and a revamped defense with the additions of Bruce Irvin, Gerald McCoy and 1st round draft pick DE Brian Burns from Florida State…the Panthers are loaded on both sides of the ball. The general sports media is writing off the Panthers. The Saints have won the division the past 2 seasons. The Falcons have talent too. But the Panthers have Cam Newton. And when healthy, Newton is one of the hardest things to game plan for in the entire league. Lets see if the Panthers can do big things in 2019.
Desmond Johnson is the Owner/ Editor of Sportscarolinamonthly.com. He also serves as Programming Manager/Creative Director/ On- Air for WSJS Sports Hub Triad in the Greensboro/ Winston-Salem/ High Point Market. You can hear his Saturday morning show ‘The Rundown with Desmond Johnson‘ live at 10am with in depth Panthers coverage throughout the season.
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