Kelvin Benjamin trade will make life even harder on Cam Newton authentic jerseys for cheap
Quarterback Cam Newton will have to find a way to win football games without his two favorite targets on the field.
Carolina Panthers All-Pro tight Greg Olsen is currently on injured reserve, and on Tuesday, third-year wideout Kelvin Benjamin was traded to the Buffalo Bills for third- and seventh-round draft picks in 2018. It was a shocking trade that left players for the Panthers in complete disbelief.
With a 5-3 record in the NFC South, the Panthers had a real shot at winning their division and clinching a playoff spot. That opportunity isn’t necessarily dead in the water with Benjamin gone, but it has become significantly less likely.
There has been a growing sense within the organization that Newton doesn’t have enough weapons on offense to compete for a championship. That’s one of the reasons the team took all-purpose running back Christian McCaffrey with the No. 8 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft. McCaffrey has been solid in his rookie campaign, and third-year wideout Devin Funchess has stepped up this year as well.
The latter was likely the reasoning for the Panthers to feel comfortable enough to move on from Benjamin, who led the team with 475 receiving yards. That still doesn’t mean Newton feels comfortable with the trade. Funchess clearly has some talent, but it’s still a gamble to assume he can find success as the team’s No. 1 receiver.
No Benjamin and Olsen could mean more of Newton trying to do too much. At training camp, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera pointed to the fact that Funchess didn’t see enough targets last season. He made it a point to rectify that problem by getting him more involved in the offense this year.
“He kind of became the forgotten guy,” said Rivera, per ESPN’s David Newton. “I think we tried to force things too much to Kelvin. Now we’re letting things happen more naturally between Kelvin and Devin. So whatever they get, they get because that’s part of the read.”
The Panthers don’t have to worry about Newton forcing the ball to Benjamin anymore. They’ve taken away his security blanket and put him in a position where he’ll have to spread the ball out more. The Benjamin move will look like a stroke of genius if other players step up and play well.
If not, it’ll be seen as another personnel misfire that further handicapped Newton and the Panthers offense.
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Firing Shula and Dorsey won’t fix all Panthers offensive problems
The Carolina Panthers are hitting the reboot button in hopes of giving quarterback Cam Newton a fresh start in 2018.
Mike Shula, the offensive coordinator for the last four seasons, has been given his pink slip and shown the door, and Ken Dorsey, the quarterback coach that watched over Newton for four years, is gone as well.
It’ll be a much different Panthers team next season from a coaching perspective. Make no mistake, the decision to move on from Shula and Dorsey were tough, but necessary, moves made by Panthers head coach Ron Rivera. The offense had become stagnant with vanilla play-calling, and the offense as a whole need some form of a shake-up.
But that also doesn’t mean the offensive deficiencies for the Panthers are suddenly cured now that Shula and Dorsey are gone. Both men were good coaches caught in a situation the offensive personnel was always a question mark.
The decision to trade Kelvin Benjamin, the team’s No. 1 receiver, to the Buffalo Bills still remains one of the more confusing moves of the season. Tight end Greg Olsen had been banged up for most of the season, and Christian McCaffrey emerged as Newton’s most reliable player. Devin Funchess is a talented wideout, but it was always a stretch to think he’d ever become a No. 1 receiving option.
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He’s best served as a second or even third option.
There were plenty of dropped passes from secondary players in Sunday’s wild card playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints. Funchess missed a catchable deep touchdown dime from Newton late in the fourth quarter to take the lead in the game. It was the kind of play that a legitimate top receiving target would make to put his team over the top.
But Newton doesn’t have that on his roster. Even without Shula and Dorsey on the sidelines, the elephant in the room is still the Panthers’ lack of receiving talent. There won’t be any more dabbing or Superman touchdown celebrations for Newton in the postseason if the Panthers don’t address the glaring hole at receiver.
It’ll only be more disappointment for a team that was literally one playmaker away from advancing to the divisional round.