Cam Newton defends ‘great coach’ Matt Rhule after Panthers fans call for his dismissal in latest loss
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The Panthers may be just 1-5 since Cam Newton returned to the squad, but the veteran quarterback is still convinced the squad is better than it has shown in recent weeks.
Newton expressed his feelings after Carolina’s 32-6 loss to the Buccaneers in Week 16. The Panthers were booed throughout that game, as coach Matt Rhule pivoted Newton and Sam. Darnold in the quarterback position to see offense spit with the two. in the field. The performance was bad enough that the crowd erupted into a “late Matt Rhule” chant at the end of the contest.
But Newton believes Rhule’s criticism is unwarranted, and he doesn’t want to blame the Panthers coach for the team’s recent struggles.
“Coach Rhule is a great coach,” Newton said at a post-match press conference, according to ESPN. “The last thing I checked, Coach Rhule wasn’t playing.”
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Newton went on to explain that the Panthers have shown themselves well in training during his six weeks with the team. Things haven’t translated into success on the pitch, but he believes the players have to be the catalyst for that to happen.
“I just know we’re a good football team,” Newton said. “It might not look like this all the time, but I know what I see in training and I know what I’ve seen in the last few weeks – we’re a good football team and we can win. It’s just about us believing we can win and not go the easy way and be able to growl matches. ”
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The Panthers have proven they can win earlier in the season. They started the year 3-0 and were considered a sleeper darling. However, since then Carolina has only gone 2-10 and has been pulled out of the playoff race.
Part of the team’s problem has been the quarterback. Newton, Darnold and PJ Walker all struggled to keep the Panthers’ offense on schedule, and the quarterback rotation came under scrutiny. Even Rhule admitted that it was harder for Newton and Darnold to build pace on the in and out, although he also defended the decision as an opportunity to assess the team’s quarterback options for. 2022.
“I fully understand why people are like, ‘Why are we going back and forth between these two guys?'” Rhule said after the game. “It’s a focused move that I understand isn’t popular, but I feel like it’s what’s best for the Carolina Panthers right now.”
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Newton doesn’t quite agree with this, as he’s not a fan of the two-quarterback system. Still, he wasn’t willing to blame the move or other coaching choices for the team’s 26-point loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday. He believes players need to play not only better but harder to find their way back to victory.
“I can tell you right away it wasn’t about training,” Newton said of the Panthers loss. “It wasn’t because of what anybody said or did. The truth is, we all play for jobs.
“If you didn’t think that as a coach you wouldn’t be doing the right things to win and build your tenure here, you wouldn’t.”
Much of Rhule’s post-game press conference focused on building things for the long term in Carolina. Looks like Newton is buying into it.
But will the Panthers return the favor? It seems unlikely given that Newton, 32, is expected to be a free agent and hasn’t performed well enough to inspire confidence as a starter or better substitute in his five starts with the team.
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