How would the Carolina Panthers perform on Sunday without their MVP quarterback Cam Newton?
Very well. In fact, some fans (including myself) thought the Panthers played better football yesterday without Newton, who struggled with accuracy against the Rams and Buccaneers. Newton re-aggravating his foot injury proved to be a big reason for these off-target throws: he was not able to fully move around in and out of the pocket.
Enough about Newton, though. I want to talk about Kyle Allen, who picked up where he left off in Week 17 of last season. To refresh your memory, Allen helped snap the Panthers’ seven-game losing streak last year, as the Panthers marched into New Orleans and won 33-14. In that game, Allen put together an impressive performance of 16 completed passes (27 attempts), 228 yards, and two touchdowns.
Yesterday, in only his second career NFL start, Allen thrived once again. All day long, he was hitting open receivers, evading pressure by moving out of the pocket, and making smart decisions with the football. Panthers fans were thrilled with Allen’s performance: it was the type of game they had been expecting from the quarterback position all season long.
In terms of statistics, Allen threw for four touchdowns and well over 200 yards (261 to be exact) in a 38-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. In the second quarter, Allen fired a five-yard strike to starting wide receiver Curtis Samuel. With under a minute to go, Allen threaded the needle and found other starting wide receiver D.J. Moore on a crossing route, and Moore took it to the house for 52 yards. Halftime score: Panthers 14, Cardinals 10.
Allen and the Panthers offense as a whole for that matter picked up right where they left off coming out of the half. They scored three more touchdowns and a field goal: two TD receptions by tight end Greg Olsen, a rushing touchdown by running back Christian McCaffrey, who enjoyed the second-highest single-game rushing total of his career (153 yards), and a 36-yard field goal from the power leg of Joey Slye, who has been one of the Panthers’ most productive players this season.
When asked about his performance postgame, Allen was very clear about what the Panthers did well in order to win the game.
“That’s how you win football games. You do your job. That’s what we’ve been preaching all week. Do your job, you don’t have to do too much, and when your number is called, make plays.”
As the Panthers travel to Houston next week to take on the Texans, they will look to do more of the same: execute plays and play football. The Texans present another tough task: similar to the Cardinals, they have a dynamic quarterback, multiple weapons on offense, and playmakers on defense.
While it is too early to tell whether Allen or Newton will start next week, it would be wise for the Panthers to start Allen and rest Newton if they want to win again.