CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Cam Newton said he feels partially responsible for the firing of Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady earlier this week — even though the QB has only been with Carolina for three games.
Newton’s goal moving forward is to win games — and keep his own job.
“Do I think I had something to do with it? The competitor in me (says) absolutely, yes,” Newton said. “The truth of the matter is you don’t lose your job because of success. Where I’m at now is doing what I can to control to make sure that I have a job, too. Let’s just be honest.”
Newton is 0-2 since taking over as the Panthers starting quarterback, and he’s lost his past 10 starts with Carolina going back to the 2018 season. He was 7-8 last season as New England’s starter.
Newton is under pressure to perform.
He’s playing on a one-year contract and there are no guarantees he will be back next season if the Panthers (5-7) don’t begin to turn things around in the final five games of the season.
So far Newton has completed 55.8% of his passes for 289 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions. He’s also run for three TDs.
But Newton’s most recent performance in a 33-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins g ot him benched in the fourth quarter following a career-low 5.8 quarterback rating in which he competed 5 of 21 passes for 92 yards.
The loss also got Brady fired after just 28 games as the team’s offensive coordinator. That’s hardly Newton’s fault, as the Panthers troubles began well before Newton’s arrival.
The Panthers have lost seven of their past nine games and rank 31st in the league in offense.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule turned this week to his high school buddy Jeff Nixon and his former offensive coordinator at Baylor to call plays for the remainder of the season. Nixon, the team’s running backs coach, becomes only the second African-American play-caller in the league outside of Tampa Bay’s Byron Leftwich.
“It’s a great feel-good story but once again it’s the NFL and it’s a production-based league and I don’t need to say anything,” Newton said. “… Am I excited for (his) opportunity, yes. Am I also disappointed about (what happened) to Joe, who was here prior to? Absolutely.”
Newton went on to say it’s on the players, not Nixon, to execute and win some games.
He said that starts with playing turnover- and penalty-free football.
“All the play-calling in the world, the best player in the world, it still doesn’t affect the things we can control and that is the penalties, focus on each and every play and not shooting ourselves in the foot,” Newton said.
On Sunday, the Panthers will face a Falcons team that is 5-2 away from the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and looking for a measure of revenge following a 19-13 loss to Carolina on Oct. 31.
The Panthers, on the other hand, have lost four in a row at home.
With both teams 5-7, the winner has a chance to move up in the wild-card standings, while the loser is in trouble.
“When we win everybody else gets promotions and when you don’t a lot of people are going to get cut along the way,” Newton said.
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