That game was a tough watch. And I only had to deal with the 40-minute version.
• Cam Newton lacked accuracy and timing. He had no touch on his throws, either. And for some reason he’s not running. Somehow he managed 333 yards, but it took him 51 attempts, he lost a fumble, could have had a pick or two, didn’t throw a TD and took three sacks. No idea why he abandoned Christian McCaffrey for most of the game, but he needs the easy throws to McCaffrey because he’s so hit and miss on the harder ones.
• McCaffrey was heavily involved early, but Tampa stuffed the run, and for some reason Carolina stopped throwing to him too. He finished with 16 carries for 37 yards and caught only two of six targets for 16 yards,
• Curtis Samuel (13-5-91) was open all day, and could have scored a TD on his 44-yard catch had Newton not underthrown him. D.J. Moore (14-9-89) also could have had more with accurate throws. Greg Olsen (9-6-110) is still viable when healthy. It seems like Newton has an easier time throwing over the middle than out wide, too.
• Good game for the rookie kicker Joey Slye — four for four on FG including two 50-yarders, though one hit the upright and bounced in.
• Jameis Winston was better (208 yards, 8.3 YPA, one TD, no picks, three sacks.) But Luke Kuechly should have had a pick, and I’m not sure whether fantasy-upside Winston is compatible with taking-care-of-the-ball Winston, who on one play held the ball for about eight seconds and gifted the Panthers a sack. (Kuechly incidentally made up for the drop in IDP terms with 17 total tackles.)
• Chris Godwin (9-8-121-1) and Mike Evans (8-4-61) were the only game in town as far as pass catchers. This is a narrow tree, and it doesn’t seem to include O.J. Howard whose only target was nullified by an offensive PI. I started Howard over Mark Andrews in a league, and I won’t make that mistake again. As talented as Howard is, Winston has always had eyes for Cameron Brate (2-2-10), and for God knows what reason, Howard isn’t featured as a pass catcher in the offense. Maybe there was something after all to Bruce Arians never involving his tight ends in Arizona, though it’s Byron Leftwich calling the plays now.
• After seeming to be in a time share with Ronald Jones (four carries, nine yards), Peyton Barber (23-82-1) once again looks like the unquestioned lead back.
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• I couldn’t decide if the Bucs new defense was good (lots of pressure on Newton, stuffed McCaffrey) or the Panthers offense was just bad (passes continually thrown behind or over the head of wide open receivers.) The truth is probably somewhere in between.