Cam Getting Some MVP Play
November 26, 2015
MVP talk is beginning to circulate nationally regarding Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers. Newton put himself in the middle of the MVP talk on Sunday after leading the Panthers to a dominating 44-16 victory over the Washington Redskins.
Completing 21 of 34 passes for 246 yards and five touchdowns will do that. As will quarterbacking a team that is now 10-0. I have to think Tom Brady of the New England Patriots is still the favorite, but it is still relatively early.
Cam Newton, MVP?
What I like about Newton is that he now has the ability to stand strong in the pocket and make quality throws. He has made huge improvement as a pocket passer. What I like even more is Newton’s productivity in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line. That trait was not needed last week, but a high majority, a very high majority of the Panthers wins have came in the fourth quarter.
I spoke last week that we may have seen the last of Peyton Manning.
Another step toward that possibility took place on Sunday when Brock Osweiler made his first NFL start. Replacing the struggling and injured Manning, Osweiler completed 20 of 27 passes for 250 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions while leading the Denver Broncos to a 17-15 victory over the Chicago Bears.
Case Keenum after his concussion
Denver head coach Gary Kubiak, even before giving Manning a change to heal, announced on Monday that Osweiler will start again this week when the Broncos square off against New England.
If Manning is healthy, I believe I would want him on the field against a Bill Belichick defense. Starting Osweiler against the Patriots, with Bill Belichick game-planning for him, could be trouble.
NFL Getting It Wrong (Again)
The NFL loves to point to the fact that they are proactive on concussions and keeping their players safe. They are quick to tell us that there are squads of medical professionals making sure their very specific policy on how teams should handle a potentially concussed player takes place.
But in recent weeks, the system has failed, as two quarterbacks went on to play after suffering a concussion.
This week, it was St. Louis quarterback Case Keenum. Late in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Rams-Baltimore Ravens game in Baltimore, Keenum was slammed to the ground during a pass attempt. While being dragged down, his neck leaned forward and then snapped back under the force of the hit, causing his head to violently hit the turf.
A Rams teammate tried to immediately scoop up his quarterback. It was like trying to pick up a rag doll. Keenum demonstrated three what the league likes to call “potential concussion signs, behaviors.
He grabbed his head after contact, he clearly showed visible coordination problems, and he was slow to get up. YouTube the video. It was obvious. Yet, the NFL’s designated concussion spotter didn’t stop the game, no concussion test was administered and Rams head coach Jeff Fisher didn’t remove Keenum from play. Keenum stayed on the field, threw an incomplete pass, and then got sacked and fumbled on the following play, which allowed the Ravens to kick a game-winning field goal.
Six days before Keenum was left out to dry by a coach who prioritized winning over player health, Houston Texans quarterback Brian Hoyer, who didn’t play this week due to his concussion, was put in a similar situation. On Monday Night Football against the Cincinnati Bengals, Hoyer got hit in the head twice while being sacked. And yet, Hoyer stayed in the game for 14 more plays before backup T.J. Yates finally relieved him. Even scarier, the Houston Chronicle reports that Hoyer couldn’t remember his team’s plays in the hit’s aftermath, and was only removed when that became apparent.
These incidents remind us that nothing has really changed. The NFL is all about wins and losses. Players are viewed as assets. There will always be an incentive to keep the team’s most important player out there even with a potential concussion, because it is all about winning. In an environment of non-guaranteed contracts and little to no job security, players feel like they have to stay on the field.
Heels Squeak Out ACC Coastal Division Title
It looked like North Carolina began celebrating a bit early on Saturday against Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels gave up two late fourth quarter touchdowns to the Hokies to send the game into overtime.
But Ryan Switzer caught an 18-yard touchdown from Marquise Williams on UNC’s possession of overtime to capture a 31-24 win and the ACC Coastal Division championship.
North Carolina still has one more game to play before getting set to take on Clemson in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte in two weeks. UNC visits North Carolina State in Raleigh on Saturday to conclude the regular season. North Carolina can keep some outside playoff hopes alive with a win next week.
The Tar Heels have never played for the ACC Championship. Since the championship game was introduced by the ACC in 2005, only Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Duke have represented the Coastal Division in the championship game.