Carolina Panthers Coach Ron Rivera pointed to his offensive line in defending the poor passing of quarterback Cam Newton this preseason.
After Carolina could not muster a single touchdown in its Week 2 preseason loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, Rivera showed his displeasure with the offense as a whole while laying some blame on the protection for Newton, who is 11 for 23 for 128 yards thus far in the 2013 preseason.
“We kicked two field goals, but I want touchdowns,” Rivera said, via the Charlotte Observer. “When you play a fast-strike offense and you play a team that can get the ball into the end zone in a hurry, you have to score touchdowns. Field goals are not enough. And that’s the disappointment. … We did miss a couple throws. But (Newton) was running for his life twice, and both times he overthrew the ball. I’m not sure you put that on the quarterback alone.”
For years left tackle Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil have been the class of this line and two of the better offensive lineman in the league, but the rest of this front has sorely disappointed. This trend has only continued through the preseason. Still, Newton must deal with all the pressure from an underperforming line to truly take a step up to the next tier of pro quarterbacks.
Taking his play up a major notch would put Newton in the borderline-elite tier that includes players like Matt Ryan and Tony Romo. They have managed to make chicken salad out of terrible line play in recent years and Newton must finally do this on a consistent basis in 2013 to join those ranks.