Injuries headlined week two of NFL


Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game in Charlotte, N.C., Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — Injuries to two cornerstone players and defensive back drama defined this week in the NFL. 

Carolina Panthers struggles continue, losing nine of their previous 10 games

In the offseason, the Carolina Panthers tried converting dual-threat QB Cam Newton to a pure pocket passer to lengthen his career. According to Pro Football Reference, Cam averaged 104 rushing attempts in each of his first eight seasons. This season, the former MVP is on pace for just 40.

The Panthers relied heavily on Cam in the passing game in week two against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it was their Achilles’ heel. Cam finished 25 of 51 attempts, passing for 333 yards, and his inconsistency never allowed the Panthers offense to get into a rhythm.  

After a phenomenal week one for Panther running back Christian McCaffrey, he rushed for just 37 yards on 16 attempts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If defenses can take McCaffrey out of the game, the Panthers will struggle to put up points. While it would be nice to lengthen Cam’s career as much as possible, if he’s willing to move toward his former dual-threat style, it could revive Carolina’s season. There’s no point in preserving Cam if he can’t be a consistent passer.

The Chicago Bears have found their man

Unfortunately, they still don’t appear to have found their man in a quarterback. Rather, they’ve found their kicker in Eddy Pineiro who hit a 53-yard game-winning field goal against the Denver Broncos.  

The biggest takeaway from this game is the Bears’ offensive struggles. They took the load off Trubisky, who only threw for 120 yards on 27 attempts. In week one, Trubisky was force fed passing plays, attempting 45 passes against the Green Bay Packers. The Bears also ran the ball 13 more times in week two.

For now, Bears fans can celebrate escaping defeat by the skin of their teeth. However, Head Coach Matt Nagy and the offense need to figure out a way to take the step forward they should have taken by now — it seems like the offense has gotten worse from last season. Luckily, it’s only week two and there’s plenty of time to right the ship.

Injuries shift NFL landscape 

The Pittsburgh Steelers announced quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will have season-ending surgery on his elbow. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reports New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees will have surgery to repair his injured thumb. The initial time frame for Brees’ return is six weeks.

With the uprising of the division rival Baltimore Ravens, it will be an uphill battle all season for the Steelers. They’ll turn to quarterback Mason Rudolph, who saw regular season action for the first time on Sunday. Rudolph threw for 112 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Steelers 28-26 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Whether he can be a reliable option for the Steelers will be shown in coming weeks.

Brees has only missed one start in his football career dating back to high school, according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will try to keep the team afloat until Brees can comeback. Bridgewater has played in six games since joining the Saints in 2018 and in Sunday’s loss to the L.A. Rams, Bridgewater completed 17 of 30 passes for 165 yards. Brees’ absence should be a sign to NFC teams to make as much ground on the Saints while Brees is out. This injury will surely effect the NFC’s playoff seeding.

Young defensive backs make their feelings known

Miami Dolphins defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick requested, and was granted, a trade to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Fitzpatrick, a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2021 seventh-round pick will head to Pittsburgh for a first and fifth-round pick in 2020 and 2021 sixth-round pick. In the start of his second season, the former 11th overall draft pick made statements criticizing the way his Dolphin’s coaches were using him. Add in the embarrassing start to the season for Miami, it made Fitzpatrick’s decision to seek a trade even easier. The Dolphins are actively trading away their starters to build for the future, and it’s reasonable to think NFL players wouldn’t want to waste years of their career in Miami at this time.

After having to be physically separated from Head Coach Doug Marrone during their loss to the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey requested the team trade him. This comes on the heels of Ramsey telling the media he won’t give the Jaguars a hometown discount and followed up by showing up to training camp in a Brinks truck. The Jaguars are looking for at least a first-round pick in return. Despite Ramsey’s immense talent, his ego and locker room presence must be taken into account by any team interested in him.