The Carolina Panthers’ future at QB more messy than ever after Cam Newton sat down on the bench

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MIAMI – Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said it’s not time to panic after Sunday’s 33-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

This happened a week after he told everyone to “hold on” and “trust” him after a loss to the Washington Football Team.

Maybe it’s time to panic, because exactly who can the Panthers trust?

Carolina is 0-2 since Newton took over as starter, but as the Panthers (5-7) enter their Week 13 farewell, their playoff hopes appear to be on life support despite a 2-0 record in NFC South and four of their last five matches against division opponents.

It’s not Newton’s fault. Newton fell into this situation when it became clear that quarterback Sam Darnold, who the Panthers traded for in the offseason, was not the answer even before he went on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

But Newton’s poor performance on Sunday magnified how confused the quarterback situation is for the rest of this season and into the future. If Newton can not rebound and prove he is the answer beyond this season, what’s next?

Coach Matt Rhule dismissed any thought that Newton will not be his starter when the team resumes play against the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 12 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). That his only other option is PJ Walker – who replaced Newton in the fourth quarter on Sunday because he had a better grip on the two-minute offense – made that decision easy.

Rhule reiterated that he had no plans to make a change at quarterback Monday after reviewing the film.

“I would definitely expect to start Cam Newton,” he said. “That does not mean we would not also play PJ. It is not bad against Cam. To keep people out of balance, maybe. But I do not know yet. PJ has known me long enough to know that I do not promise .

Newton promised to spend the farewell week diving into areas of offensive coordinator Joe Brady’s attack, which he has not had time for since starting his second stay with Carolina just two and a half weeks ago.

He insisted he could be safe enough that what happened on Sunday would not happen again.

But there are no guarantees. And if he looks as bad in the last five games as he did in South Florida on Sunday, then the Panthers will once again be in the market for a starting quarterback.

Fox analyst Moose Johnston stressed that during the broadcast, saying the Panthers need to find out the quarterback spot. He did not rule out that Darnold was given an opportunity to show that he can be a solution.

“But it’s still a changing position for Matt Rhule,” Johnston said.

Rhule said Monday that Darnold (shoulder) started throwing last week and will be evaluated when the team returns from farewell.

Aside from a turnaround there, it’s clear Darnold will be the league’s highest paid backup next season because the Panthers are committed to paying the $ 18.8 million he needs in 2022 since picking up his fifth-year option after acquiring him in the trade with the New York Jets.

And no team would take Darnold in a trade with that price tag unless the Panthers agree to pay part of his deal.

It’s not beyond them. They are already paying $ 7 million on top of the $ 10 million that was fully guaranteed for Teddy Bridgewater after letting him go to Denver to pick the sixth round. The Broncos will only pay $ 3 million to Bridgewater in 2021.

Carolina gets a $ 4.7 million hit on Darnold this season, in addition to the $ 18.8 million next year, and it gets a $ 6 million hit on Newton this year with $ 4.5 million guaranteed.

That Newton is 32 and has taken more hits than any quarterback since 2011 due to his playing style further complicates matters. He probably does not have many good years left.

If Sunday suggests, he may not have any.

His 23.8 completion rate was the worst of a previous NFL MVP with a minimum of 20 passing attempts – ever. Peyton Manning had that award with 25% in a game in 2015, the year Newton won the MVP.

Manning retired after beating Newton and the Panthers in the Super Bowl that season.

If Newton does not return, the Panthers will look for a quarterback. It is highly unlikely that if Aaron Rodgers or Russell Wilson left their respective teams, they would want to come to Carolina, so that will not be the answer.

In any case, the draft does not appear to have any definite solutions.

So Sunday’s loss and performance of Newton confused everything going forward. The only guarantee is that Rhule will not overreact and he will continue to be focused on the next match as always.

His first goal is to figure out how to beat teams that have figured out what he called the “formula” for beating the Panthers – stop the race and pressure the quarterback.

That the offense fights against zero blitz, as it did on Sunday, further complicates the matter. It’s hard to assess the quarterback when so many other things go wrong, but there are still things Newton could have done to counter the pressure.

It goes back to making the right decisions, throwing to the right receiver, throwing with better timing – all things that were out against Miami.

“We need quarterbacks to play and play our way through it,” Rhule said. “The quarterback is only as good as the people around him, but he has to make these people better.

“We just want to evaluate it all every week. We are not at the end of the season. We are not coming up with a global opinion for the future.

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