Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 17-16 loss at Tampa Bay:
Cam Newton’s shoulder isn’t right.
This is not to make excuses for Newton, who has been pretty terrible most of the season following his MVP year of 2015.
But if you watched him try to make sideline throws to the wide side of the field Sunday, it was obvious they lacked the normal zip. Newton threw three interceptions (one returned by Brent Grimes for a touchdown on the second play of the second half) and had at least two other passes that could have been picked.
Newton said after the Atlanta loss the Panthers could stand a sabbatical. His shoulder needs a long rest – at a minimum – and the Panthers need a remake of their offensive system and (some) personnel.
The Panthers’ defense deserved better.
Despite missing three starters, the defense kept the Panthers in this game with three sacks of Jameis Winston and pretty solid play. Coach Ron Rivera wanted to look at some young players. A few guys who stood out were middle linebacker David Mayo, cornerback James Bradberry (INT) and defensive end Wes Horton (forced fumble).
The defense finally wore out in the fourth quarter when it gave up a touchdown with 3 minutes, 13 seconds remaining.
Graham Gano is going to have to win his job next summer.
Gano’s missed 50-yard field goal at the end of the season opener set the tone for a bad post-Super Bowl season.
He put a bookend on it Sunday by missing three of four field goals. The Panthers need to bring a legitimate kicker into training camp in 2017 to push Gano.