Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton's struggles should continue

Streeter Lecka

Bobby Loesch and Joe Gems break down Bears vs. Panthers.

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The popular narrative for this game will probably be Cam Newton vs. The Bears Defense, which is certainly welcome over the one I feared (Jay Cutler vs. Being Alive).

I haven't watched enough of ailing Carolina to give a diagnosis on what, specifically, is wrong with the team, but I'd love to immerse myself in this Cam Newton/leadership controversy. After all, don't us Chicagoans have some decent experience with those discussions? I saw a tweet recently I can't find that was great; it said something like "These Cam Newton post-game press conferences are like watching a 5-year-old trying to explain why he forgot his homework." Really spot-on. Because love him or hate him, Cam could certainly be better. The divide is created between the people who believe he can be vs. the ones who've totally written him off as childish. This type of thing -- even if it does get fixed -- doesn't get solved in a matter of days.

Cam (who I love) has become must-watch for all the wrong reasons, Jon Beason just got put on IR for a knee *and* shoulder injury, and their RBs are drowning in money. I feel like a call out of their coaching staff is deserved, but, again, I'm not close enough to the situation. Obviously the GM got canned, so maybe Rivera is next.

Getting back to the intro point (Cam vs. Chi D), I'd expect the Bears defense continuing its rapid momentum vs. Cam pulling a 180 and turning Carolina around on a dime. Their season already seems like a fully lost one.

Prediction: Bears win big

Joe Gems

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Just last year, Cam Newton was helping to further revolutionize the quarterback position. Unlike most of his predecessors who excelled in only one area, Newton proved to be just as capable a pocket passer as he was red zone run threat. The Panthers even won six games in the process -- an impressive total for a team with hardly any expectations entering the season. Nowadays, Cam Newton's name is only brought up seemingly for the purpose of trolling, or race-baiting, or a nauseating combination of the two. What happened? The simple answer is that Newton isn't playing up to the high standards he set for himself. The even simpler answer is that his team isn't winning.

Save for an embarrassing 29-point loss to the Giants, the Panthers' four losses were decided by six points or less. They've stayed in games, but struggled to finish them. Questions about a young quarterback's maturity and leadership arise when his team is losing, even if he's playing well during the losing streak. If the Panthers' pull out a couple of those close losses, and are currently sitting at 3-3, for instance, we're not hearing anything about Newton's demeanor.

According to may always-flawed box score analysis, Carolina's offensive struggles should probably be attributed more to their inconsistent run game, rather than Cam Newton sulking on the bench. They've struggled against the good run defenses (Tampa Bay, NY Giants, Seattle, Dallas) and had success against the poor ones (New Orleans, Atlanta). Not coincidentally, New Orleans is the only team they've beaten this year, and Atlanta needed a somewhat flukey 59-yard pass completion thrown from their own end zone to set-up a game-winning field goal.

Just last year, Cam Newton was helping to further revolutionize the quarterback position. Unlike most of his predecessors who excelled in only one area, Newton proved to be just as capable a pocket passer as he was red zone run threat. The Panthers even won six games in the process -- an impressive total for a team with hardly any expectations entering the season. Nowadays, Cam Newton's name is only brought up seemingly for the purpose of trolling, or race-baiting, or a nauseating combination of the two. What happened? The simple answer is that Newton isn't playing up to the high standards he set for himself. The even simpler answer is that his team isn't winning. Save for an embarrassing 29-point loss to the Giants, the Panthers' four losses were decided by six points or less. They've stayed in games, but struggled to finish them. Questions about a young quarterback's maturity and leadership arise when his team is losing, even if he's playing well during the losing streak. If the Panthers' pull out a couple of those close losses, and are currently sitting at 3-3, for instance, we're not hearing anything about Newton's demeanor. According to may always-flawed box score analysis, Carolina's offensive struggles should probably be attributed more to their inconsistent run game, rather than Cam Newton sulking on the bench. They've struggled against the good run defenses (Tampa Bay, NY Giants, Seattle, Dallas) and had success against the poor ones (New Orleans, Atlanta). Not coincidentally, New Orleans is the only team they've beaten this year, and Atlanta needed a somewhat flukey 59-yard pass completion thrown from their own end zone to set-up a game-winning field goal.

The Bears are winning games because they're winning the turnover battle. They sit atop the NFL with a +13 turnover margin, while Carolina is dwelling near the bottom of the NFC with a -6 margin. Carolina's proclivity for turning the ball over, coupled with their inability to break down good run defenses are why I think the Bears win this game. It will be closer than it feels like it should, though, because if the Panthers have proven anything this year, it's that they can keep a game close.

Prediction: The losing quarterback could learn a thing or two about poise and humility. The winning quarterback really showed me something today.

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