Cam Newton’s homecoming for the Carolina Panthers didn’t go according to plan last week against the Washington Football Team, and things went from bad to worse on the road in Week 12 at the Miami Dolphins. Down 20 points early in the fourth quarter, head coach Matt Rhule benched Newton for P.J. Walker. The Dolphins went on to win, 33-10.
Newton had a very rough go of it on Sunday, as he completed just 5 of 21 passes for 92 yards and threw two interceptions. While he was inaccurate throwing the ball, the former NFL MVP was also under duress all afternoon from Miami’s pass rush. Newton didn’t have Christian McCaffrey to rely on either, as McCaffrey rolled his ankle in the first half and was on and off the field for the third quarter.
Newton, meanwhile, will remain the Panthers’ starting QB moving forward, Rhule told reporters after the game, and was apparently only benched against Miami because Walker has a better understanding of the team’s no-huddle, two-minute offense.
“I’m not making any changes,” the coach said of the starting QB job, per the Charlotte Observer. “We were not protecting the quarterback worthwhile, at all. It didn’t seem fair to keep Cam in there to keep getting hit. It gave P.J. a chance to play and at the same time Cam just hasn’t had a lot of experience in that part of the game.”
Carolina’s offense still has serious problems, but maybe the most notable takeaway from this game was the failure of Carolina’s defense. This unit came into Sunday the No. 2 defense in the league, but Tua Tagovailoa had no problem moving the ball. In fact, rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle had 100 receiving yards by halftime.
Newton was able to inject energy into this franchise when he re-signed a few weeks ago, as this motivated team came out and upset the Arizona Cardinals on the road, 34-10. That shine has appeared to have rubbed off, however, and it feels as though Carolina’s postseason hopes are seriously in doubt.