A few years back, both of these teams were considered up and comers with a young quarterbacks who would be leading them into the playoffs. Fast forward a few years and you have 2 teams that are both in a state of uncertainty. Tampa Bay started the year with Josh Freeman at quarterback and it quickly became public knowledge that he was having issues with head coach Greg Schiano. After attempting to trade him over the course of a few weeks they eventually gave him his unconditional release (he signed with the Minnesota Vikings). A crazy ending to the scenario when you consider the fact that he threw for 4000 yards only a year earlier and was supposed to be the quarterback of the future. The Panthers do not appear to have any plans to release quarterback Cam Newton anytime soon. However the team’s inability to win close games has head coach Ron Rivera on the hot seat. Both teams have big questions heading into week 8.
After starting off the season 1-3 the Panthers have won two in a row and have their record at 3-3. Newton has been exceptional in these last two game going 35-43 for 464 yards with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. These numbers don’t seem like much when you consider 43 passes is a low total through 2 games, however that is the style of play the Panthers use. They are a running team first and Newton is just as much a threat with his legs as he is with his arm. In last weeks 30-15 win over the Rams Newton was steady and wide receiver Steve Smith continues to find the end zone and remain a number one receiver in the NFL with 5 catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams combined for 28 carries while Tolbert scored a rushing touchdown. On defense the Panthers now have the 3rd ranked in the NFL. This continued by forcing 3 turnovers and having 3 sacks. They also knocked Ram quarterback Sam Bradford out of the game with a knee injury that will ultimately end his season.
With the Giants winning on Monday Night and Jacksonville putting up a fight vs. Denver a few weeks ago, a case can be made that Tampa Bay is the worst team in the NFL. Freeman may have been the player that was cut be there are several others players rumored to be unhappy with the way Schiano runs things. He has brought his college mentality into the NFL and apparently hasn’t adjusted it to cater to professionals. New quarterback Mike Glennon played well vs. the Falcons with no interceptions and 2 touchdowns in his first strong showing. Running back Doug Martin is injured and will be out for at least a few weeks and we will find out if backup running back Mike James is able to fill his shoes
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