Tag Archives: Cam Newton

Cam Newton Proves His Draft Day Critics Wrong

28 Jan
SuperCam2

Cam Newton flexing his Superman pose after scoring a touchdown against Tampa Bay. Newton led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will be coming into Super Bowl 50 with a myriad of accolades thanks to the NFL and a target placed on his back by the Denver Broncos defense.

Newton was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press and the Pro Football Writer’s of America. He’ll be taking on future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning when the Super Bowl is played on Feb. 7 at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara, California.

When you look at his stats this season, it reminds me of something one would see in a John Madden football video game. Newton passed for 3,837 yards and threw 35 touchdown passes. He also ran for 636 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns.

In total, Newton accounted for 4,473 yards and 45 touchdowns. At 6-5, 245 pounds, Newton is bigger than some linebackers and defensive ends and is a punishing runner.

During the 2015 season, Newton made himself into one of the league’s elite players and arguably elite quarterbacks. He was voted the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year.

But what makes all of the praise he’s getting now so ironic is that many of the people lauding him were pouring haterade by the gallon on Newton in the days leading up to his being taken as the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Coming out of college, draft experts and NFL pundits alike trashed Newton by throwing out every racist stereotype of Black quarterbacks that had ever existed.

Never mind that he had won a national championship at Auburn, a junior college championship the previous year and was the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, all the so-called experts questioned his intelligence and his leadership.

Most of the criticism centered on a perceived inability to read NFL defenses and how that inability would all but ensure he wouldn’t make it in the NFL. These “experts” also said he was arrogant because he told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King that he planned on being an icon and an entertainer.

Some so-called experts including Hall of Famer and Fox Sports football analyst Terry Bradshaw, said that former University of Missouri star Blaine Gabbert and University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker were better than Newton.

ESPN’s Skip Bayless said Newton didn’t have accuracy of a Tim Tebow, who is now a college football analyst on the Worldwide Leader In Sports.

One columnist of a popular sports website said Newton was going to be a bust along the lines of quarterbacks Ryan Leaf, Matt Leinart and Vince Young.

Of course, Newton did get kicked off the football team at Florida for stealing a laptop, a crime in which all of the charges were dropped due to a pre-trial intervention program in Florida. There were also reports of academic misconduct as well.

And then there’s the charge that Newton father, Cecil, was trying to peddle his son’s services to Mississippi State for $180,000. That allegation was never proven and Auburn was not sanctioned by the NCAA because of it.

Meanwhile, as the investigation into those alleged NCAA violations was reported on all the major sports networks, Newton never wavered in his focus in leading the Tigers to a national championship. One of those games include Newton leading Auburn back from a 24-0 deficit on the road against a Nick Saban-coached University of Alabama squad that was coming off a national championship the year before.

And yet, Newton’s critics said that the recent Auburn University graduate didn’t have the IQ or leadership ability to be an NFL quarterback, which was completely absurd because you don’t win a national championship without being a team leader and having the mental toughness to stay focused in the face of all of the hoopla around the possibility of NCAA sanctions.

But despite struggling to adjust to the pro game, something all young quarterbacks do, and despite doing some sulking on the sidelines his second year in the league, something that you’d also expect from a 23-year-old and that veterans such as Steve Smith Sr. quickly got him out of, Newton has led the Panthers to three straight playoff appearances including this year’s Super Bowl run.

This year, Newton showed that he could make other around him better, something he did at Auburn. When Carolina’s best receiver Kelvin Benjamin went down with a season-ending injury, Newton utilized his tight end, Greg Olsen as a deep receiver and he’s made Devin Funchess, Ted Ginn Jr. and Jerricho Cotchery into better receivers.

Whether Newton leads Carolina to a Super Bowl victory or not on Feb. 7 , he can say to his Draft Day critics that old Kool Moe Dee lyric, “How ya like me now?”

After Dominating Carolina, It’s Bring On Aaron Rogers and the Green Bay Packers

12 Nov

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Happy days appear to be here again for Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez. He came up big against the Carolina Panthers Monday night. His next assignment will be at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Happy days appear to be here again for Eagles quarterback Mark Sanchez. He came up big against the Carolina Panthers Monday night. His next assignment will be at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA— The competitive portion of Monday Night’s Eagles-Panthers game ended shortly before halftime mainly because Carolina was overmatched, undermanned and had absolutely nothing for the Birds.

The Eagles were able to cruise to an easy 45-14 win over the Panthers because they scored in all three phases of the game—offense, defense and special teams-despite having just 37 yards rushing as a team. To be honest, the Birds could have beaten Carolina with one hand tied behind their backs.

Defensively, the Eagles front-seven teed off on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, sacking him nine times and forcing four turnovers—three interceptions and two fumbles. Connor Barwin had three and a half sacks by himself.

The Birds defense cut off Newton’s running lanes and put pressure on him throughout the game.

Connor Barwin (98) and Brandon Graham converge on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.  The Eagles had eight sacks. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Connor Barwin (98) and Brandon Graham converge on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. The Eagles had nine sacks. Photo by Webster Riddick.

“The idea was definitely don’t let him run up the middle, don’t let him go North,” Barwin said. “When he gets North that stride can open up on you. He’s gonna run East-West, we thought that we could run him down.”

On offense, Mark Sanchez not only managed the offense well, he made some plays in the passing game and basically picked the Carolina defense apart. He completed 20-of-371 passes for 330 yards and two touchdown passes.

After some tough times with the New York Jets, Sanchez looked like a guy who was having funs running the Eagles uptempo offense. Fun was something he didn’t have too much of during his days with the Jets.

The win over the Panthers was his Sanchez’s start in two years.

“I don’t know. It was just a great night. It was so fun. It was so fun to get back out on the field. I’m very blessed and I thank God for the opportunity. It was really cool,” Sanchez said. “It’s been a while, and I’ve been out of it for a little bit and away from the game. It’s good to get back. It’s good to get back in an environment like this in front of this crowd and in front of all of those guys that work so hard during the week. It’s so fun to watch it pay off.”

His favorite target was rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who had a pretty good game, catching seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. The six-foot-three Matthews is getting better with every game.

“I think it’s definitely slowing down,” Matthews said. “I think early on you look at the game in a sense that I gotta hurry up and do something good. I gotta go out and make a play.

“But you can’t press it, you can’t rush it, you just gotta let the game come to you and just continue to play with that confidence and never get too far outside the game and that’s what I’m learning …Play fast, but in your mind slow the game.”

Meanwhile, Head coach Chip Kelly was not happy with the small numbers the Eagles produced in the running game. Running back LeSean McCoy had just 19 yards on 12 carries.

“We didn’t execute the way we needed to execute in the run game,” Kelly said.

Darren Sproles had another electrifying performance with a 65-yard punt return and an eight-yard run for a touchdown that gave the Eagles a 17-7 lead after the first quarter. It was the ninth return touchdown of the year for the Birds special teams and defense.

By the end of the second quarter, it was a wrap. Sanchez hit rookie wide receiver Jordan Matthews for a 13-yard touchdown pass and cornerback Bradley Fletcher scored on a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Next week, the Eagles will face one of their biggest tests of the season when they head out to the Midwest to take on a Green Bay Packers squad that destroyed the Chicago Bears in a 55-14 romp at Lambeau Field.

On Sunday night, Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers carved up the Bears defense for 315 yards and six touchdown passes. The former Cal star can not only chuck it from the pocket, but he can also do it on the run.

Something not lost on the Eagles defense.

“You know what you get when you play the Packers. You know you got an explosive offense that can put up points at any time,” said Eagles free safety Malcolm Jenkins. “Rogers is really the only duel threat quarterback that really excels at both scrambling and he’s one of the real good pocket passers in the league. You have to pick your poison.

“If they get him going, it could be a long day for the defense.”

Done: After Loss to Carolina, Eagles Need to Look Ahead to Next Year

27 Nov

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Running back Bryce Brown was one of the few bright spots in the Eagles loss to the Panthers on Monday night. He gained 178 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Photo by Webster Riddick.

If you’re still watching, you might as well look at the last five games of the Eagles 2012 campaign as an exhibition season where the team will be evaluating younger talent and older players will be playing for jobs either here or elsewhere.

With the Eagles seventh straight loss to the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field, the playoff contending portion of the season is officially over. Actually, the Eagles hunt for the postseason may have been over last week in Washington or even the week before against the Dallas Cowboys.

We’re marking this as the “official” end to the year because Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said earlier this year that an 8-8 record or worse was not acceptable and that Andy Reid would be fired if things didn’t improve. The way this season is going, the Birds will be lucky to finish at .500.  Suffice it to say, Reid’s days are numbered in Philly.

The 30-22 loss to the Panthers Monday night was a microcosm of the Eagles awful season. Defensively, the Birds were just plain clueless as Cam Newton picked apart the Eagles for 306 yards and four total touchdowns—two passing and two on the ground.  Since the firing of former defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, the defense has gotten progressively worse with each week under Todd Bowles stewardship as the defensive coordinator.

“It’s stressing because every possible way that we could lose a game, we’ve done it,” said defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton makes sure the ball crosses the plane of the end zone for a Panthers touchdown. The former Auburn star threw two touchdown passes and scored two rushing touchdowns in the Panthers win over the Eagles Monday Night. Photo by Webster Riddick.

On Newton’s first two touchdown passes, a 24-yarder to tight end Gary Barnidge and  a 43-yard strike to wide receiver Brandon LaFell, the defensive backfield was nowhere to be found.  During this seven-game losing streak there have been some bizarre breakdowns in coverage where receivers have waltzed into the end zone all alone and untouched.

“It’s miscommunication, missed assignments and that leads to what happened tonight, they just have a clear shot,” said strong safety Nate Allen. “It’s unfortunate, mistakes happen. But there’s no excuse.”

If it wasn’t for a couple of overthrown balls by Newton there might have been more touchdown passes against the Eagles defense.

When the Eagles bring in a new coach for next year, overhauling the defensive backfield has to be one of the priorities for the defense, especially at the safety position.  The players they have—Allen and free safety Kurt Coleman are somewhere between below average and just downright terrible.

On offense, there was a bright side and a downside with the negative trumping all the good things that happened. Running back Bryce Brown, who hadn’t played much football since his high school days in Wichita, Kan. had a huge game for the Birds, gaining 178 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns—including a big 65-yard run for a score.

The downside for the Birds was Brown’s two fumbles killed drives and ultimately any chance the Eagles had for a victory.  You also had a sub-par performance by rookie quarterback  Nick Foles, who completed 16-of-21 for 119 yards and came close to being intercepted not once, but twice.

If you’re looking at a player the Eagles ought to keep for next season, Brown is a definite keeper. With him and LeSean McCoy in the backfield, the Eagles will have something special.

At the same time, it has to make Eagles fans wonder would have happened if this team had put a greater emphasis on the running game with McCoy and Brown.  Quarterback Michael Vick would have taken a few less shots to the head if Reid and Marty Mornhinweg would have utilized the running game more.

Even a patchwork, injury-riddle offensive line like the Birds can run-block when they are called on to do it. But during the Reid era, the running game, even when they have been good at moving the ball on the ground, is something they have been reluctant to utilize as the lead weapon in their offensive attack.

The next coach of the Eagles should understand that you need talent on both sides of the football. On offense, you need a balanced attack. You can’t throw the ball over 30-40 games and have the running game as an after that thought, something that happened quite frequently during Reid’s tenure in Philadelphia.

Defensively, you can’t just draw up a scheme and think you can win with a bunch of mediocre players. In his 14 years, Reid didn’t pay much attention to finding talent on defense.  By the time guys like former defensive end Jevon Kearse and their so-called shutdown corner Nnamdi Asomugha got here, their skills were in decline.

The only thing for the Eagles to do for the remainder of this season is evaluate the talent they already have and search the collegiate ranks for players to address the spots where they are weak.

Brace yourselves Eagles fans because it’s going to be a while before your Birds can call themselves a playoff contender again.