The Los Angeles Rams will take on Cam Newton and the defending NFC Champion Carolina Panthers this Sunday, November 6 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum (1:05 P.M. PST, TV: FOX, Radio: ESPN 710 AM, 100.3 FM The Sound).
Both teams are struggling this season with sub .500 records, but it appears that Carolina has righted their ship somewhat after defeating the Arizona Cardinals last week 30-20 to improve to 2-5. Coming off of their bye week, the 3-4 Rams have lost three games in a row while the offense has struggled in critical moments throughout the streak, especially at the quarterback position.
Given the repeated calls by fans and local media alike to promote Jared Goff to starting quarterback, scrutiny aimed at Rams QB Case Keenum will be magnified further if he struggles again. While Carolina’s front seven is still the same as a year ago, the Panthers’ secondary is occupied mainly by first year rookies and has been susceptible to large pass plays. Keenum must exploit the inexperienced Carolina secondary if Los Angeles wants to put up points against a still dangerous defense moving forward.
Concerning the Panthers, after Carolina’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals last week, Cam Newton made headlines after voicing his concerns to the NFL for the lack of protection he is getting from the referees.
“That’s bullcrap,” Newton said. “As a player in this league, if we do something stupid we get fined. If you do something derogatory to somebody else, we get fined. I just can’t keep accepting, ‘Oh, we missed that one.’ Or ‘I apologize for doing that.’ Or ‘I didn’t see it.’ That’s horsecrap.”
Panthers head coach Ron Rivera echoed Newton’s statements on his lack of protection:
“It’s more about making sure he is getting the equal treatment and the protection he deserves as a quarterback in the pocket. I have reached out to the league, and the league has responded. And most recently I have reached out to the commissioner, and he has responded, and we’ll continue to work through this and see how it goes. This is something I work on every week, quite frankly.”
With the NFL later admitting to making a mistake to missing a call on Arizona defensive lineman Calais Campbell, expect the referees to police the game on a much shorter leash to protect Newton. Los Angeles could have a more difficult time putting pressure on the 2015 NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Either way, the Rams’ best chance to slow down Newton is if the front seven can get to him fast enough to either force him to pass under duress or get out of the pocket to make something happen.
Sources: Profootballtalk.com, CharlotteObserver.com, vegasinsider.com, ESPN.com
Martin Cruz is a staff writer for Rams Talk. You can find him on Twitter with the username @MCruz1988