If you are a Panthers fan, would you ever have imagined that Cam Newton would not be starting in Week Three?
For one, I can tell you that I thought Newton would be starting all 16 games this season. After surgery on his throwing shoulder in the offseason, I though that we would see the Panthers 2-0 and on top of the NFC South.
That has not happened, and I think Newton was rushed backed from last year’s injury. While at times Newton’s shoulder has looked better, as evidenced by him airing the ball out downfield a bunch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week Two, Newton was very inaccurate, missing over ten wide-open receivers (15 off-target throws). Interestingly enough, this was not because of his shoulder. The off-target throws were because of a foot injury that Newton suffered in Week Three of the preseason against the New England Patriots.
After that game, Newton informed the team that he had re-aggravated that injury, which later led to head coach Ron Rivera ruling Newton out of today’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. One, this is likely to preserve his future as an NFL player, and two, this injury could be more serious than Panthers fans thought.
Newton being ruled out meant that one of two guys would be named the starting quarterback for the Panthers today: Kyle Allen, the undrafted free agent who was signed out of the University of Houston in 2018, or Will Grier, the Panthers’ third-round draft pick in this past year’s NFL draft. Given his brief NFL experience, most notably the win that he led the Panthers to last year (New Orleans Saints) to snap their seven-game losing streak, the Panthers elected to go with Allen.
Allen can play: before Allen transferred to Houston, he beat out Kyler Murray for the starting job at Texas A&M (which was before Murray transferred to Oklahoma). Murray later went on to win the Heisman at Oklahoma, while Allen, after a respectable college career, has waited for his opportunity to become an NFL starter.
Allen gets his chance today against Murray, as the Panthers travel to the desert to take on the Cardinals at 4:05 P.M. ET. Both teams come into this game struggling, as the Panthers have dropped two straight games in which they could have won, and the Cardinals tied a game they could have won, followed by a close 23-17 loss at Baltimore. Both teams will be hungry for their first victory of the season, and I expect both defenses to perform well.
Even though Kyler Murray is one of the most exciting young players to watch in the NFL, I think the Panthers’ defense is the reason why they are going to win this game. Kyle Allen will build upon his Week 17 start last year and throw for at least 250 yards. Final score: Panthers 24, Cardinals 20.