the Panthers’ 31-13 win
over the Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Of course, come Friday morning Schiano's status as the man at the helm of an 0-7 ship may be the headline grabber again. The Panthers (4-3), who have a winning record for the first time in five years, have won three straight games and are only a game-and-a-half out of first place in the NFC South. Newton, with the assistance of his offensive line, was able to slice and dice the winless Tampa Bay defense through the air and on the ground. The Panthers third-year quarterback avoided making mistakes, extending his turnover-less streak to 12 quarters. That flawlessness is allowing the Panthers offense to extend drives and chew up clock. Newton’s first two seasons in the NFL were filled with controversy and adversity. He’s been criticized for his me-first attitude and negative body language during losing seasons. There was none of that this season, as Newton oozes confidence when things are going right. He even said that the Panthers could “absolutely” win the NFC South in his postgame news conference (
which you can watch here
). Offensive coordinator Mike Shula has simplified things for Newton and he’s responded well. Newton also noted that the time he spends time after practice working on his craft with Shula, backup quarterback
and quarterback coach Ken Dorsey has begun to carry over to game day. The Panthers now begin a three-game gauntlet (
), which will determine if this team is a contender or pretender. They have 10 days until the Falcons come to town. For the Bucs, following weeks of scrutiny, it’s time for them to consider if Schiano is the right man to lead this team moving forward. They are still searching for their first win and face a Week 9 road trip to Seattle — perhaps the toughest place to win in all the NFL. For Schiano's part, he is trying to stay focused on the next game as opposed to the questions surrounding his job. You can watch him
address those calling for his head here
. OK, let’s get into what else we know:
Newton can really frustrate a defense
You know when Newton’s 1000-watt smile is gleaming, it’s a bad night for the opponent. And that’s exactly what it was for the Bucs. Newton, who completed 23 of 32 passes for 221 yards and 2 touchdowns, also led the team in rushing with 50 yards. Newton came into the league with
-hype and hasn’t maximized his potential — until now. His athleticism is a nightmare for coordinators because of his pinpoint accuracy and gazelle-like speed on the ground. He wasn’t perfect and missed some wide open receivers on Thursday, but he’s learning to limit damage when plays break down.
said earlier this week that Newton has gone "from playing checkers to chess." Newton has earned praise of his veteran teammates and also made some history becoming the first player ever to have 50 touchdown passes and 25 touchdown runs over a three-year span (and he's got nine games to go).
How long will Schiano last in Tampa Bay?
Yes, "Fire Schiano" billboards have
erected in the local area
. Then the fans erected their own Thursday night.
This guy even showed up to Thursday's game wearing bags on their head with "Schiano is worse than MRSA" printed on them. If you don't get that joke,
Even the fans in Tampa Bay like the opposing QB more than their own head coach.
Reports have surfaced
that Schiano and his coaching staff have lost the locker room. What’s worse is no player has really come to Schiano’s defense. The team has lost its last 12 of 13 games dating back to last season and the clock is firmly ticking on Schiano. Unless the Buccaneers string together a couple of wins in a hurry and some veteran players stand up for him, the Rutgers former head coach
will be hitting the unemployment line
. And plus,
is probably tired of tweeting the same thing over and over again.
The Buccaneers are way too talented of a team to be this bad. They’ve splurged the last few offseasons in free agency, but they’ve never jelled. That’s on the coaching staff.
Fundamentals were an issue for Bucs
That lone Buccaneer whiffing on
was second-year linebacker
. It was tough night for Tampa Bay’s defense, lacking some fundamentals trying to wrap up the ball carrier and containing Newton. To be fair, they were undermanned without safety
. Punt returner
muffed a punt in the third quarter that allowed the Panthers to have a short field. Newton made them pay, piloting a four-play 29-yard drive capped by a 3-yard touchdown pass to
. Issues also emerged on offense as center
, who was later moved to left guard, had two low snaps on third down which stifled drives in the first half.
’s 6-foot-7 frame can read and react only so quickly when the ball hits him in the knee.
How special is Carolina’s defense?