The Panthers offense bounced back from a terrible outing against the Saints in Week Three with their best effort of the season in Sunday’s 33-30 victory over the Patriots. The balanced effort saw Cam Newton run for one touchdown and throw for three more, including one on a short pass that Fozzy Whittaker took to the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown. Whittaker wound up open because the defense keyed on Christian McCaffrey motioning to the other side of the field. Newton faked to McCaffrey to set the stage for the kind of play the Panthers talked about a lot this offseason. After the game, Newton said that the offensive performance was a sign that things are falling into place: “Well, it’s not about what a lot of people think because a lot of extracurricular activity, especially throughout the week, but it just takes time. People have to realize, I have to realize it, it takes time. Anything great — this offense isn’t cereal or quick grits or instant grits — this is a full on entree and we have to prepare it that way. Knowing moving forward, we’ve got impact players and play makers that when you give them the ball or give them opportunities to make plays they will do it.”
After losing to a white-hot Texans team, the Titans now have to deal with the prospect of an injured quarterback. Marcus Mariota did not come out with the Titans’ first-string offense to start the second half after suffering a hamstring injury. He didn’t return to the game in the Titans’ 57-14 loss. Veteran backup Matt Cassel played under center the rest of the way. TV cameras showed Mariota on the standing on the sideline during the second half. Mariota will undergo an MRI on his hamstring, coach Mike Mularkey told reporters following the game. The quarterback suffered the injury on his second touchdown run. The severity of Mariota’s injury is unknown, but it would be a devastating blow for the Titans if he misses any time. Despite his uncharacteristically sloppy first half (two interceptions, 96 total passing yards) Mariota ran for both of the team’s two first-half touchdowns. Without his mobility, Mike Mularkey’s exotic smash mouth offense takes on a very different look.
Hue Jackson once again denied that the coaching staff and front office are at odds as the rebuilding Browns continue to slide. Before Sunday’s 31-7 loss to the Bengals that dropped the Browns to 0-4, CBS Sports Jason LaCanfora reported that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam conducted a conference call with his personnel staff during the week to give them a vote of confidence. One team source told LaCanfora it felt more like a “kiss of death.” The impetus for the call, according to the report, was Jackson saying “go ask the executive team” when asked last week if the Browns are built to win this year. Even Haslam has indicated that the Browns are poised to be “significantly better in 2018 and 2019,” and that 2017 wasn’t necessarily a year to spray champagne around the locker room. When a similar report surfaced two weeks ago, Jackson said he’s in lockstep with the front office and that the reports are false. He reiterated that Sunday: “I know nothing about any of that stuff. People can say what they’re going to say. Let’s be honest, that has been the [reported] flavor of this organization for years. That doesn’t exist in our building at all. I know those things are going to come. You guys are going to ask those questions. I know nothing about that at all.”