Here’s how Panthers’ Cam Newton is preparing to be a different kind of QB this season

0 Comments

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Very impressed with Cam Newton on Sunday. Very impressed. Impressed with his real talk with the hard-core fans during training-camp practice breaks in the end zone near the woods on the Wofford College practice field. Impressed with a couple of 35ish-yard completions (one with a little mustard to darting wideout Curtis Samuel), in his third real football practice since his January rotator-cuff cleanout arthroscopy. Impressed that his mechanics and form look more precise and practiced. And impressed that, at age 30 and with a warning shot (the surgery) about his mortality fresh in his mind, he’s moving to the next phase of what still could be a dominant run for him.

This is one of the things that impressed me in a post-practice conversation: He doesn’t think he has to be Cam Superman anymore. (I’ll explain why he’s absolutely right.) He may be a different quarterback than he’s ever been—maybe; I’m certainly not sure of that—but the answer to a question about his arm strength speaks volumes about where Newton is right now.

I asked: “Do you worry that you’ll never have the fastball you had, let’s say, in 2016?”

“This is what I do know,” Newton said, sounding placid. “You can look back at any type of player. You can look back at any type of sport and as a player grows, your game has to change. I remember reading and seeing a lot of clips about Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, even Peyton Manning to a degree. When you get old, you have to change certain things. It kind of keeps you young. I actually look forward to it. I embrace this whole process because it’s made me feel like a rookie again. Learning certain things, learning new mechanics, focusing on the little nuances of playing a quarterback position and trying to master it. So at this point in my career, it’s not about velocity. It’s not about throwing a ball 70 yards. It’s about efficient football that’s gonna win football games.”

That’s part of why this was such an educational day at Panthers training camp.

Sunday, mid-practice, Newton tossing with a ballboy, keeping his arm warm. He’s precise. He’s not out here jacking around, throwing sidearm, just to throw. There’s a purpose. Windup, exact overhand throw, follow-through. Serious business. I don’t see a lot of Panther practices of course, but Newton, on Sunday, was more serious and precise with his work than I remember. Even though he was carrying on conversations with fans—not just one-liners, but 30 or 40-second chats—practice was business-like.

You may not remember this, but when Peyton Manning was struggling with his neck injury and recovery post-Indianapolis, he got some advice from Bill Parcells, which I’ll paraphrase: You know who Jamie Moyer is? Soft-tossing major-league pitcher. He’s found a way to have a long career without having even a good fastball. Work on your lower-body strength, use your legs to help your arm strength, and just find a way to win. You’re smart enough to figure it out. Manning did, and it was enough in Denver to cap his career with a Super Bowl win four years ago, even though he was a contributing player on that title team, not a dominant one. Who cares? Denver won it all—coincidentally against Newton’s Panthers.

It’s silly to think of Newton as some hobbled guy who won’t be able to summon up greatness and the ability to throw deep effectively. He had his shoulder surgery in late January, spent most of the offseason simulating his throwing motion or throwing a small football, and is obviously still rehabbing and recovering for the season. But he knows he doesn’t have to be Scherzer; he can win in other ways, particularly because of short-passing weapon Christian McCaffrey.

It’s actually a work-in-progress that started in 2018, when the new offensive staff—coordinator Norv Turner and son/QB coach Scott Turner mostly—began working to make Newton’s throwing motion more precise. “People in football would notice, but maybe a fan wouldn’t,” Scott Turner said Sunday. “Cam historically had a throwing motion where it was very open, where he put a lot of stress on his shoulder. Now he’s worked to close it up, which relieves a lot of pressure on his arm. He can still throw with a lot of velocity. But he is getting used to a little bit of a new way. The shoulder, being a little more closed. If you stay closed, with the right weight transfer and upper body movement, your shoulder’s not going to be stressed as much.”

Peter King meets with Carolina quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday at Panthers training camp. (NBC Sports)

In the first three months last year, Newton’s completion percentage (.696) was 10 points better than his career number (.598); his passer rating at the end of November, 103.7, was four points better than his MVP year of 2015. Clearly, he was a willing student. Some of the credit goes to McCaffrey with his 107 catches in 124 targets. Some goes to the willingness of Newton to be coached, to learn and to change. “It’s given me a different type of confidence, knowing that we got the personnel. … All I have to do is just get the ball in their hands,” Newton said.

But the good performances were masking a continuing shoulder issue, one that he couldn’t hide any longer in his last three games. The Monday night game in Week 15, a 12-9 loss to the Saints, was excruciating to watch. Newton couldn’t break a pane of glass with his throws. Of his 29 passes that night, one (one!) traveled more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage. Ever watch a fight being dominated by one boxer, and you get to the ninth round, and you’re yelling: Throw in the white towel! End this thing! With the Panthers 6-7 that night and still in the playoff hunt, coach Ron Rivera—and Newton—figures Newton at 55 percent still gave Carolina the best shot to win.

That didn’t make it easier to watch.

“As a quarterback in this league,” Newton said, “you’re unanimously the leader, right? We needed that game. I felt as if I wanted to give my team everything that I had honestly. Being hurt, being injured … looking back at it, it probably wasn’t the smartest, efficient thing, knowing that I left it all out there on the field. And if you asked me if I’d do it again, I’d do it again. I just know my worth to this team—know how much these guys believe in me and how much I believe in them. If I’m willing to do that, and I know I’ve seen other guys do the same thing, too.”

The surgery in late January was a significant clean-out, but Newton felt better right away. “Cam and I came in together, in 2011,” coach Ron Rivera told me. “And so I can read him pretty well. The day after, he motioned his arm [moving the arm in a throwing motion] and gave me this look. It was the kind of confident look in his eyes I’ve seen before.” But as Andrew Luck can tell you, there are no guarantees post-shoulder-surgery about when you’ll feel right and when you’ll feel you can cut it loose. Or if you can. So it’s premature to say what we’ll see in Newton in six weeks for a really tough opening stretch: Rams at home on opening Sunday, Bucs at home four days later. Yikes. Imagine a short-week game, coming off shoulder surgery against the defending NFC champs … and after being chased by Aaron Donald for three hours.

Newton called his current state “still a work in progress. One thing about the shoulder and constant moving, constant muscle manipulation, constant trying to get your range of motion back: You can’t mimic real life reps. This [training camp] is actually the first time I’m actually throwing to moving targets, things like that. … Now it’s another phase. You gotta work on throwing the deep pass. You gotta work on throwing on opposite fields, something that you haven’t been doing for so long because you’re just trying to perfect the small kind of intimate, intermediate throws.”

The only time in our conversation that Newton bristled a bit was when I wondered how he’d feel if he couldn’t be the old Newton. Understandable … because even Newton doesn’t know exactly what his shoulder’s going to feel like this fall.

“See,” he said, “it’s still speculation. You know, at the end of the day, God has possessed me with things that I’m grateful for. … Now, being older, you kind of look at things different. For me, it’s not that I’m limited with certain things, or that I’m not capable of doing certain things, it’s just other ways to do it. I’m not saying I’m not gonna run people over. I’m not saying I’m not gonna run the football. I’m not saying I’m not gonna throw the ball down the field. I’m just in a position now where none of that matters but one thing, and that’s winning football games. If it requires me to do all those things, I’m willing to do it. And if it doesn’t, I’m still fine with that.”

If I’m a Panthers’ fan, I like what I see out of Newton six months after surgery. I like what I hear just as much.

Read more from Football Morning in America here

2023 NFL Playoffs, Conference Championship scores: Final bracket, recaps, results for every AFC and NFC postseason game

2 Comments

The 2023 NFL Playoffs are finally here as the battle for the Lombardi Trophy continues. After six action-packed games on Wild Card Weekend and all the excitement of the Divisional Round and Conference Championships, the time has almost come for Super Bowl LVII, and the stage is now set.The Philadelphia Eagles routed the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game, and the Kansas City Chiefs bested the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC to make it back to the Super Bowl for the third time in the last four seasons. Andy Reid will face his former team and Patrick Mahomes and Jalen Hurts will meet in a battle of young superstar quarterbacks.

RELATED: 2023 NFL Playoffs Schedule

See below for the final scores, results, schedule and bracket for every game through Super Bowl LVII. Check out the full 2023 NFL playoff and Super Bowl schedule here.

2023 NFL Playoff Scores – Wild Card Weekend

Saturday, January 14

Seahawks (7) vs 49ers (2)

Chargers (5) vs Jaguars (4)

Sunday, January 15

Dolphins (7) vs Bills (2) 

Giants (6) vs Vikings (3) 

Ravens (6) vs Bengals (3) 

Monday, January 16

Cowboys (5) vs Buccaneers (4) 

Divisional Round Scores

Saturday, January 21

Jaguars (4) vs Chiefs (1)

Giants (6) vs Eagles (1)

Sunday, January 22nd

Bengals (3) vs Bills (2

Cowboys (5) vs 49ers (2)

Conference Championships Scores

Sunday, January 29

NFC Championship Game: 49ers (2) vs Eagles (1)

AFC Championship: Bengals (3) vs Chiefs (1)

Super Bowl LVII – Philadelphia Eagles vs Kansas City Chiefs

  • Date: Sunday, February 12
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
  • TV Network: Fox

Which teams are still in the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Eagles (NFC Champions) will play the Chiefs (AFC Champions) in Super Bowl LVII.

Which teams have been eliminated from the 2023 NFL Playoffs?

The Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals have all been eliminated from the 2023 NFL playoffs.

RELATED: Giants hold off Vikings 31-24 to advance to Philadelphia next weekend

2023 NFL Playoff Bracket:

RELATED: NFL overtime rules and procedures


2023 NFL Playoff Picture:

AFC:

  1. Kansas City Chiefs (14-3)
  2. Buffalo Bills (13-3)
  3. Cincinnati Bengals (12-4)
  4. Jacksonville Jaguars (9-8)
  5. LA Chargers (10-7)
  6. Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
  7. Miami Dolphins (9-8)

NFC:

  1. Philadelphia Eagles (14-3)
  2. San Francisco 49ers (13-4)
  3. Minnesota Vikings (13-4)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-9)
  5. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
  6. New York Giants (9-7-1)
  7. Seattle Seahawks (9-8)

How to watch 2023 NFL Playoffs and Sunday Night Football on Peacock:

If you have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can watch Sunday Night Football on your TV or with a TV provider login on the NBC Sports app, NBC app, or via NBCSports.com. Check your local listings to find your NBC channel. If you can’t find NBC in your channel lineup, please contact your TV provider.

RELATED: What to know about Super Bowl 2023 – Date, location, halftime performance info, and much more

If you don’t have access to NBC via your TV provider, you can stream Sunday Night Football on Peacock with a $4.99/month Peacock Premium plan.  Sign up here or, if you already have a free Peacock account, go to your Account settings to upgrade or change your existing plan. 

Please note that selection of a Premium plan will result in a charge which will recur on a monthly or annual basis until you cancel, depending on your plan. You can cancel your Premium plan at any time in your Account.

What devices are compatible with Peacock?

Peacock is available on a variety of devices. See the full list here.

In addition to Sunday Night Football, what else can I watch with Peacock Premium?

Premium is your key to unlocking everything Peacock has to offer. You’ll get access to all the live sports and events we have, including Premier League and WWE Premium Live Events like WrestleMania. You’ll also get full seasons of exclusive Peacock Original series, next-day airings of current NBC and Telemundo hits, plus every movie and show available on Peacock. There is always something new to discover on Peacock Premium.


 Follow along with ProFootballTalk for the latest news, storylines, and updates surrounding the 2023 NFL Playoffs, and be sure to subscribe to NFLonNBC on YouTube!

2023 NFL postseason overtime rules: How OT works in the playoffs & Super Bowl, difference from regular season

0 Comments

The 2023 NFL Playoffs are underway and this year’s slate of games have already brought some thrilling action leading up to tonight’s Conference Championship matchup between the Bengals and Chiefs. 

Unlike the regular season, playoff games cannot end in a tie so the rules are a bit different. But some very important things are exactly the same. This year will also mark the first playoffs with new overtime rules in place, spurred in large part by the showdown between the Bills and Chiefs in last season’s Divisional Round that saw the Chiefs score a game-winning OT TD on the opening possession without Josh Allen and the Bills offense ever getting to touch the ball. See below to find out how overtime works in the NFL playoffs according to the league’s official rulebook, as well as what’s different in 2023. 

 RELATED: Click here for the complete 2023 NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl schedule 

What has changed in NFL playoff overtime rules in 2023? 

That 42-36 Kansas City Chiefs overtime win over the Buffalo Bills in last year’s AFC Divisional Round was one of the greatest playoff games of all time, but also one of the most controversial. The 2023 playoffs will feature guaranteed possession for both teams, rather than the receiving team being able to take the win on the opening possession. Here’s the full breakdown from ProFootballTalk:  

Now if a team scores a touchdown on the first possession of overtime, it will line up to kick an extra point or attempt a two-point conversion. Then that team will kick off, and the other team will get a chance to score a touchdown. If that team does score a touchdown, it will line up for an extra point or two-point conversion of its own. It’s possible that the game can end at that point: For instance, if the first team kicked an extra point, the second team can try a game-ending two-point conversion attempt. But if the score remains tied after both teams’ touchdowns, at that point the team that scored the second touchdown would kick off again, and from there on it would be sudden-death overtime.

How does Overtime work in the NFL Playoffs and Super Bowl? 

  • In the regular season, overtime periods last 10 minutes. In the playoffs, OT periods are 15 minutes long, and with a tie game not an option, action continues until there is a winner. 
  • If the score is still tied at the end of an overtime period — or if the second team’s initial possession has not ended — the teams will play another overtime period. Play will continue regardless of how many overtime periods are needed for a winner to be determined.
  • There will be a two-minute intermission between each overtime period. There will not be a halftime intermission after the second period. 
  • The captain who lost the first overtime coin toss will either choose to possess the ball or select which goal his team will defend, unless the team that won the coin toss deferred that choice. 
  • Each team will have an opportunity to possess the ball in overtime. 
  • Each team gets three timeouts during a half. 
  • The same timing rules that apply at the end of the second and fourth regulation periods also apply at the end of a second or fourth overtime period. 
  • If there is still no winner at the end of a fourth overtime period, there will be another coin toss, and play will continue until a winner is declared. 

RELATED: PFT– What do NFL’s new postseason overtime rules mean? 

Why did the NFL overtime rules change? 

Last year’s Divisional Round proved to be one of the best weekends of football in the history of the sport, capped off with Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomesdueling it out in a saga for the ages. 

The Chiefs and Bills combined for 25 points in the final two minutes, and after Mahomes led an incredible drive down the field in the final seconds of the game, Harrison Butker tied the game on a 49-yard field goal to send it to OT. The Chiefs won the coin toss, and on the opening drive of bonus football, Mahomes connected with Travis Kelcefor an 8-yard TD to cap off an eight-play, 75-yard game-winning drive. Allen and the Bills’ offense never touched the ball in overtime. 

The result reignited the conversation on why these rules might need to change, and in the ensuing offseason, they did. In March 2022, NFL owners approved a proposal that gives both teams (in the postseason) a guaranteed possession in overtime before the game becomes sudden death. 

It’s not clear how long these changes will stay in effect but for now, at least, this is how all NFL postseason games will be played out. 

RELATED: Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk was among those to weigh in on the OT conversation. Click here for more. 

Click here to see the full 2023 NFL playoff schedule and be sure to check out ProFootballTalk for more on the 2022 NFL Playoffs as well as game previews, predictions, recaps, news, rumors, and more.