NFL AM: Panthers Make Statement In Seattle


Newton Gets Biggest Regular Season Win Of His Career

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton isn’t the best quarterback in the NFL.  That honor goes to Aaron Rodgers.

He doesn’t quarterback the best team either.  That’s Tom Brady.

The honor that Newton should have is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Newton is arguably playing with less talent around him than any quarterback in the NFL and all he’s doing is willing his otherwise mediocre football team to wins, every single week.

The Panthers improved their record to 5-0 as they traveled to Seattle and took down a Seahawks team that had plenty to play for, 27-23.

It’s a task that few quarterbacks in the last three years can claim they accomplished and it was Newton’s first win over the two-time defending NFC champs.

When asked if he was most proud of beating Seattle or staying unbeaten, he responded:  “Staying unbeaten.  It’s not necessarily about me and I’m just going to keep pushing forward and keep pounding.”

The Panthers trailed for much of the game before a furious fourth quarter rally which saw them finish the game with 13 unanswered points.

“It wasn’t pretty early on, but that’s what you get when you’re playing a great defense,” Newton said in an NBC post game interview.  “There’s going to be some bad things that happen and there’s going to be some good things that happen in this type of environment.”

Despite putting up less than MVP numbers, Newton made the big throws when it counted and the biggest throw of the game came with 32 seconds left as he connected with tight end Greg Olsen for a 26-yard touchdown.

“We were scrambling getting out of the huddle and we were getting down on the play clock a little bit and Cam (Newton) said to get the play out and we just rushed up and snapped it,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who had seven catches for 131 yards and the game-winning touchdown explained.  “It was the same play that on the last drive I got down to the 1 (yard line) on.  We just called the exact same play and it opened up and Cam put it right on the money.”

With the Falcons losing on Thursday night, the Panthers are all alone in first place in the NFC South and they remain as one of the four unbeaten teams in the NFL.

A win in October certainly doesn’t guarantee any playoff success, but if the Panthers can win in Seattle, they can win anywhere.

It’s Broken In Jacksonville

As discussed last week, the Jacksonville Jaguars are making progress.

They’ve gone from anemic on offense, to a pretty decent fantasy football team.

Unfortunately, decent teams in reality football actually win.

The Jaguars dropped their fourth-straight game, 31-21 to the Houston Texans on their home field.  It was the team’s third loss in as many weeks to a one-win team.

“I just felt like guys really pressed and that can happen but we can’t allow it to happen,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said. “They’ve got to fight through that. You cannot press and try to make plays happen. You’ve just got to let them come to you, you’ve got to go through your reads, you’ve got to trust your teachings, your preparation and go about it that way. That part we’ve got to fight through.”

It seemed as if Bradley had a point.  His team did seem to press.  They love their head coach and they want to continue playing hard for him.  Perhaps too hard.

“We’ve just got to continue to focus in on what we do and grind even more, and do everything with a sense of urgency knowing that this is the way we’re going to do things,” linebacker and defensive captain Paul Posluszny said. “We need to continue to find the opportunities to make plays to help us win games.”

The Jaguars are getting all too good at cliches and saying all the right things.

One day at a time.  It’s a learning experience.  We just need to continue to work hard.

“I’m not sure,” Jaguars defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks said about how the team is going to move on. “We’ve got to hold everybody accountable. It can’t be words, everybody has to help out.”

There’s no doubt that the team is working hard.  Nobody in that locker room or in the coaching box wants to lose football games.

But there the Jaguars are, sitting at 1-5 through six games which leaves them tied once again for the worst record in the NFL.

They have a London trip looming, a country in which they were outscored 73-27 over the past two seasons in losses to the San Francisco 49ers (2013) and Dallas Cowboys (2014).  The Buffalo Bills get the next crack at Jacksonville across the pond.

The biggest question coming out of the next two weeks in Jacksonville will be whether London will snatch another head coach’s job.  Dennis Allen lost his job after his Oakland Raiders were defeated in Week 4 last season.  Joe Philbin lost his after a Week 4 loss across the pond this season.  With an 8-30 record through 38 games it’s looking like 8-31 could be the last stand for Bradley.

It’s not just the head coach’s fault.  It’s never just one guy’s fault.  It takes a lot of moving parts to be as bad as the Jaguars have been over the past three, four, five… seven-plus years.

Bradley was asked directly if his team had the talent to compete on a weekly basis.

“Yeah, I do because that’s the only way I look at it,” Bradley responded. “These are the guys that we have and let’s go. It’s our job to improve them and get them to a level of play where they’re playing consistently enough at a high level to win games. That’s our whole objective and I think we’ve got to constantly evaluate, are we getting everything we can out of these guys? Then we’ll take a look at it and evaluate it.”

The Jaguars have a bye week coming up after the game against the Bills in London.  There will be plenty of time for evaluation, and unfortunately for Bradley, Jaguars owner Shahid Khan needs to evaluate the job his head coach is doing and the standings show that he should be benched.

About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.