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Grill Bill: Concerns about Cam? 


@panthrsfan123 Should we be worried about Cam's lack of deep passes this season?

This sure turned into a hot topic around here this week, didn't it?

I ruffled some feathers in the fan base a few weeks back when I wondered aloud about Newton's deep ball since his '17 shoulder surgery. Again, I'm not necessarily saying he can't make those throws anymore. I'd just like to see him complete some at a relatively consistent pace, which for a myriad of reasons, he didn't last year. Still, that he's started 2018 by hitting on just one of 14 passes that have traveled 20-plus-yards past the line of scrimmage isn’t only on him.

Let me write that one more time for those who call me a Cam #hater: IT'S NOT JUST A CAM PROBLEM.

As our old friend John Fox used to repeat, there are a lot of moving parts in a passing game. Only one of those is the quarterback. There are undoubtedly other factors at play like an offensive line, what the defense gives you, play calls, which receivers are out there and how those receivers play.

My point is I'm not looking to place blame on anyone. I'm just saying these guys have to find a way to get vertical in a league where offensive numbers have turned video-game-like, especially when the Panthers' defense is still trying to prove it can be its usual, dependable self.


@Brannon87 I understand all the panicking about the deep ball. I used to think that was all Cam would throw. But are the deep routes open and Cam choosing the check down or are our guys not getting separation? Would love to see some film on this

There's this from Week 5 when Torrey Smith ran through the middle of the field against the Giants:

And there are similar moments you can find in last week's game.

But for almost every deep ball Newton doesn't pull the trigger on, you can find examples of plays where a connection didn't work out for a different reason. Like the pressure that affected this ball intended for Devin Funchess, who initially had a step on Norman:

Again, it's not just one reason.


@ThatScottyGuy Why are we not using Samuel?? He has the speed to take the top off for bigger plays and to open up both the passing and run game but we keep leaving him out of the game. Why?? #GrillBill

But on Twitter, where by law everything has to be distilled into only one reason, this is what most fans honed in on this week. That doesn't mean your frustration isn't warranted.

The Panthers had plays in for Samuel against the Redskins, but those were thrown out after they dug themselves an early hole. I'm not sure why that meant he couldn't help bring them back, but I also haven't been coaching for 40-some years like Norv Turner. Still, Samuel needs more than the three snaps he got last week.


Website submission from Ken in Charlotte: I thought Norv Turner was going to get Cam to get the ball out quicker? Is it that he doesn't know the plays and isn't sure where his guys are? He looks tentative and unsure of what is going on. Norv needs to sit Cam down and allow him to observe.

He is getting the ball out quicker and looks more decisive than ever. If there's an issue, it's that he's sometimes getting off reads too quick now. But as Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt says, “Cam Newton makes people stupid.”


@kiefw15 What's the happy medium for Cam's overall completion percentage and deep ball completion percentage?

Now, this is a GREAT question.

We wanted Newton to up his completion percentage, right? Well, he's on pace to shatter his career high. Of course, if he throws more deep passes, the completion rate will naturally decrease.

I don't really have specific percentages in mind, but I think what would be best for the Panthers is at least an uptick in attempts downfield. Then you'd hope those wouldn't interfere all that much with Newton's newfound efficiency. So, yeah, more of a happy medium.


@youngandwrcklss Cam has a 110.1 QB rating running the no-huddle so far this season. I know we want to win TOP but this can be used without the hurry up part as well. Think we see more no-huddle?

At the risk of sounding like a coach, it depends on the situation. They had some success with it in Week 1 when the warm day helped wear down the Dallas defense.

Mostly, how often they bring it out hinges on the personnel they face. The more big guys on a defense, the more you could see it.


Website submission from Jon in West Chester, PA: What matchup are you most looking forward to watching Sunday?

I'll give you one from each side of the ball.

Offense: right guard Trai Turner vs. defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who leads the league with 15 quarterback hits. Cox's get-off is fantastic, and Turner's best defense against that will be making sure he can extend his arms against Cox.

Defense: cornerback James Bradberry vs. wideout Alshon Jeffery, who has 18 receptions and three scores since returning from shoulder surgery. Jeffery is a tier below the Julio Jones/A.J. Green/Odell Beckham Jr. gauntlet Bradberry faced earlier this season, but this is a vital matchup Sunday.


@MVPKembaWalker _How can our defense improve so that we can actually start winning more games?

Gap control, gap control, gap control.

So much of the defense's success begins with stopping the run first, which begins with gap control. Not only do guys need to stay in their spots, but they also need to fight a bit better through things like scoop blocks.

And now, the lightning round ...


@Daeavorn What is going to happen with the OTs once Kalil and Williams come back? Will Moton be sat again?

Daryl Williams isn't coming back this year. And they're not sitting Taylor Moton.


@Jdcostin910 Who is the funniest Panther you've ever met?

I'll go with Jordan Gross.

Asked the same question to a few folks who have been around here since the beginning and they tossed out names like Brentson Buckner, Rod Smart and Reggie White.


Website submission from Bill in Lakewood, WA: Is it this frustrating being a fan of any team? Or is it a unique Panthers experience?

C'mon, man.


@joeyellis Hi Bill. How cursed are the white jersey / black pants combo? I feel they're pretty cursed. I don't like them at all. Looks like laundry day. GAH MY EYES. I guess this is more of a statement than I question. Basically a fact. Love the show. I'll take my answer off the air.

Joey is one of my favorite tweeters.


Website submission from Doug in Huntersville, NC: Best place in Philly for a cheesesteak?