NFL

Cam Newton to remain Panthers starter despite benching against Dolphins

By Sports Desk November 29, 2021

Cam Newton was benched after producing a poor display against the Miami Dolphins but the Carolina Panthers do not expect to change their starting quarterback.

A miserable Sunday for the Panthers saw them go down to a 33-10 loss in Miami, their third defeat in four games.

It was a rough outing for former MVP Newton, who recently returned to the team with whom he made his name as a free agent signing. 

He completed only five of his 21 passes for 92 yards and two interceptions, adding one touchdown on the ground.

Newton was replaced by P.J. Walker with the Panthers (5-7) down 20 in the closing stages, head coach Matt Rhule later explaining the backup had a better grasp of the two-minute offense.

Ex-New England Patriots QB Newton hopes to use the Panthers' bye week to get more familiar with the system before a Week 14 divisional game at home to the Atlanta Falcons.

And Rhule, who cited poor pass protection in explaining Newton's struggles, is not planning to make a move at a position where Sam Darnold and Walker have previously started for the team this season.

"I'm not making any changes right now," Rhule said after the game. "At the end of the day, we weren't protecting the quarterback at all.

"It wouldn't be fair to keep Cam in there and keep getting him hit.''

NFL Research said Newton's completion percentage of just 23.8 was the lowest by a QB with 20-plus attempts in a game since 2004.

Newton, who had looked much better in the narrow loss at Washington last week, had no complaints about Rhule's decision to take him out of the Dolphins game.

"I was fine with that,'' said Newton. "At the end of the day, it's still about being a professional. 

"At that particular point, I had more than enough opportunities to keep the game in the balance. There's no need to put up a fight with that.

"It really got exposed because of the situation, not having a full grasp [of the offense]. Nobody to blame, more so the situation I came into. 

"Having this week to kind of self-scout and dive into what the root of this offense is all about, that's what I plan on doing."

Newton added: "This is the NFL. Nothing's promised.

"Just because Cam Newton's on your roster doesn't mean you're just gonna win. Just because it's a feel-good story doesn't mean you're gonna win. I'm well aware of that."

It was a much better day for the Dolphins, who have now won four straight games to rally from a woeful 1-7 start to a 5-7 record.

Tua Tagovailoa was on the money with 27 completions from just 31 pass attempts for 230 yards and a touchdown.

He became only the fourth player in NFL history to record a completion percentage of 80 or more in consecutive games (minimum 30 pass attempts).

The only two QBs to have achieved the feat before this season are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, while Kyler Murray also did so for the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 and 3 of this year.

There were other landmarks for the Dolphins too. Cornerback Xavien Howard claimed one of the interceptions on Newton to reach 25 for his career.

The pick meant he surpassed Marcus Peters to become the fastest player to reach 25 interceptions since 1990, doing so in just 67 games.

And rookie wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, who had nine catches for a career-high 137 yards, now has 77 receptions through his first 12 career games.

That is the second-best tally in NFL history behind only Odell Beckham Jr (91), who made an explosive start to his career with the New York Giants in 2014.

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