Grill Bill: Testing out Taylor? 

Taylor-Heinicke-pass-

@tombstonejosh1 Seems weird to ask this because I am not one of the Cam haters but could it be true that we may see more of this offense's actual potential with Taylor starting?

It's a fair question, with a yes and no answer.

Sure, Newton's inability to get vertical was clear over the past few weeks, but there’s no replacing the fear his overall ability continued to put in defensive coordinators. Opponents still had to account for him in multiple ways.

I see your point, though.

Take the offense we saw bubbling up in the first half of the season and add an arm that can right now truly stretch a defense. With Taylor Heinicke in there, the Falcons won’t be able to squat on routes like, say, the Browns and Saints did the past couple of weeks. And with Heinicke providing that threat to go over the top, guys like Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore should have more room to operate underneath.

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@WILDPITCH28 Given Cam's uncertainty going forward (Thinking Andrew Luck - worst case) are the next 2 games Taylor Heinicke's prove it or lose games for next season?

A solution and timetable for Newton’s shoulder are still unclear, but what is clear is the Panthers can’t go into 2019 without knowing what they have in a backup. So while all of this isn’t ideal, in a small way it’s a blessing in disguise.

Coaches are intrigued by Heinicke’s arm, his decision-making (at least in practice) and as he showed in the preseason against the Patriots, his athleticism.

But what’s his ceiling?

Think Case Keenum.

I know, I know. That’s not all that exciting. But Keenum has been serviceable the past couple of years. He’s been a so-so starter this season in Denver, but he did help lead the Vikings to the NFC title game last winter (after beating out Heinicke in Minnesota the previous summer).

Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1, 215 pounds. Heinicke is 6-1, 210. And both are more athletic than many think.

Again, Heinicke as a potential next Keenum isn’t going to fire up the fan base. But it’d be prudent for the Panthers to have that level of backup behind Newton. So if the answer is already on the roster? Well, these next two games will help them gauge if it is.

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Email from Chris: Hey Bill, any talk of using Cam and Heinicke similarly like Baltimore has used Lamar and Flacco both on field? Also, could we see Cam lining up at receiver or maybe even an option pitch reverse? Cam has declared that he has the best hands on the team! His size is a true redzone threat. #NorvGetCreative Thanks!

I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on here, but that probably wouldn’t be best for Newton's shoulder at the moment.

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@joelwmann93 hi Bill! Aside from fixing 1's shoulder, should remedying the pass rush be the number 1 priority in the offseason?

So, I was wrong.

I used this space multiple times in the first half of the season to preach patience when it came to the pass rush. I figured the front and back ends would improve throughout the year and we’d see the sack count rise as we have in recent seasons.

Sack numbers aren’t the end-all-be-all, but that total is at 32 heading into Sunday. That puts the Panthers on pace to finish with 36 or so, and that would be their fewest since they had just 31 during Ron Rivera's first season in 2011.

With Julius Peppers potentially stepping away for good, and none of the young defensive ends emerging as a consistent presence, improving the pass rush should undoubtedly be a priority. And sure, I’ll even say it’s second behind getting Newton’s shoulder right.

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@devon9988 When the @Panthers squeak into the playoffs and make the Super Bowl, what flavor wings would you recommend for the party?

Cajun?

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@gscotty1964 Why is Jackson's recent Int on the 2 point conversion not showing up on stat's?

Because conversion attempts never count toward stats like that.

Typically, the offense is credited with either a converted or failed attempt. So if Newton throws a successful two-point conversion to Jarius Wright, that completion doesn’t count toward Newton’s passing numbers and Wright doesn’t get a reception for two yards.

According to the NFL’s stat book from Monday night’s game, this is how that two-pointer was recorded: “D.Jackson defensive two point conversion.”

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@rocklobster88 _Was a decision ever made on Searcy returning from IR? Apologies if it's already been reported and I missed it

That window closed this week, so his 2018 season is officially over.

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Website submission from Jayden in Winston-Salem, NC: Even though It's been a rough couple of weeks i will still and always be a panther love yall

Thank you.

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@CamKyle It’s officially mock draft season. Who we picking?

No.

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Website submission from Tyler in Raleigh, NC: What did you ask Santa for Christmas?

For him to delay mock draft season.

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