Football

Even if Cam Newton was healthy, Kyle Allen is a better fit at quarterback for Carolina Panthers

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, seen in a 2017 game against San Francisco, is sidelined by a foot injury, but NFL Network David Carr says Kyle Allen is a better fit for an offense coordinated by Norv Turner than the former league MVP.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, seen in a 2017 game against San Francisco, is sidelined by a foot injury, but NFL Network David Carr says Kyle Allen is a better fit for an offense coordinated by Norv Turner than the former league MVP. Sacramento Bee file

The Carolina Panthers scratched Cam Newton on Monday, which is telling.

Usually when NFL teams have an MVP-type player whose status is questionable, they’re going to wait to see how he feels on Friday before making that call. But Cam has been banged up. He had shoulder surgery in the offseason and now he’s dealing with a bad foot, which might be a Lisfranc injury, and that could turn out to be a long-term deal.

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David Carr

But regardless of Newton’s healthy, the Panthers might be better off right now with Kyle Allen taking those snaps. That’s because Norv Turner is the offensive coordinator.

Pairing Cam Newton with Norv Turner was very interesting – and kind of a head-scratching move. It really didn’t make any sense from a matchup stand point, so I thought when Norv went in there last year he might do some different things. But he has had Cam Newton running play-action pass and taking seven-step drops. He has been running the same offense that Troy Aikman ran in Dallas back in the 1990s.

They haven’t been utilizing Cam’s best abilities, and that starts with running the football. That was always an advantage for the Panthers. When he was healthy and really running hard, he’d gear up. He’d put the shin guards on. He’d have extra hip pads. He’d have forearm pads. The Panthers were a run, run, chunk-play team.

When he won the MVP, that’s what they were.

With the way they’ve used Cam Newton the past two years, there’s no fear there.

We still talk about Cam being one of the premier athletes in our league, a real threat at quarterback, but the way Carolina has used him lately he’s no threat at all.

Cam has lost his past eight starts and while there are times he can look good because he’s a good athlete and a good football player, he’s underutilized as a run-game threat.

So now Kyle Allen steps in and it doesn’t look like Norv Turner is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole anymore. He’s running his offense, and Kyle does a fantastic job with it.

Allen hit 73.1% of his passes last week when Carolina beat the Cardinals, threw four touchdown passes without an interception and had a quarterback rating of 144.4. The Panthers scored 38 points.

Guess how many times Cam Newton had a rating of even 120.0 or higher in 16 games working with Norv Turner, or scored as many as 38 points in a game …

Just once, and just once.

The real dilemma now – what happens when Cam is healthy?

The Panthers have a tough schedule the next month and a half, with four of their next six games on the road. But Kyle Allen is playing well. They have good young receivers. Obviously, Christian McCaffrey is a coverage-dictator. He’s going to force defenses to bring an extra guy down into the box, so Allen is going to get a lot of one-on-one throws.

They have a good defense. They’re going to run the ball and utilize play-action like they did Sunday at Arizona. That’s just a fantastic combination.

If they go on a win streak, take three or four games in a row, that’s a real issue. It’s not a bad one, obviously, because they have a good quarterback and they’re winning games. But they also have their franchise quarterback sitting on the sideline.

If this were Week 14, they could go to Cam Newton and say, “You’re going to go to injured reserve and we’re going to let you heal up.” But we’re not even a month into the season, so this is a real issue for them to figure out.

What I like about the Packers …

The Packers offense is going to continue to develop, and that will be interesting to watch. But what I like in Green Bay right now is the formula.

For so long it has been “Aaron Rodgers, save the game.” But Mike Pettine came in there last year as defensive coordinator and brought in a pretty aggressive scheme. I’ve always enjoyed studying it because they put a lot of pressure on you. They really know how to test your protections, they can play coverage and they have guys who can get after the quarterback.

Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, they have 4.5 and 3.0 sacks in three games and the Packers have allowed just 35 points. They’ve forced eight turnovers.

Couple that with what they’re doing on the offensive side, running the ball and shortening the game, and I really like what they’re doing in Green Bay. It’s going to be fun.

Defense wins championships, and fantasy leagues …

Carr was talked into joining a fantasy football league a few years ago by his brother, Darren. He won it. His strategy – picking a defense off the waiver wire each week that has a chance to score points based on their matchup.

The Chargers are playing the Dolphins this week, so there’s your defense.

With the position players, Raiders tight end Darren Waller is a guy people are starting to grab up and just from a matchup standpoint he would be a good pick. The Raiders went into last week’s game at Minnesota with only four wide receivers dressed. They felt like they had enough and that Darren Waller could be a matchup guy, kind of like Jared Cook was for them last year. Obviously, they didn’t play as well as they wanted to, but Waller had a ton of touches and he will continue to get the football.

I don’t think a lot of people picked up Giants quarterback Daniel Jones. But with Saquon Barkley out, they’re going to throw the ball a lot and Pat Shurmur’s offense is well suited to him. He’s going to put up some big numbers just because they don’t have any other options with Saquon out four to six weeks.

David Carr is a former Fresno State quarterback, NFL No. 1 draft pick and Super Bowl champion. Now he’s an analyst for the NFL Network and writing a weekly column in collaboration with The Bee’s Robert Kuwada. The column is sponsored by Valley Children’s Hospital.

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