Ask a former NFL player: Is it time for the Panthers to clean house yet?

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Panthers coach Ron Rivera yells

Ron Rivera could be out of as head coach if the Panthers have another losing season

In this week’s mailbag, Geoff Schwartz also discusses whether more players will follow Andrew Luck into early retirement, and the beauty of the QB sneak.

Week 1 plus a Thursday Night Football snoozer are in the books. So that means it’s time for my Friday mailbag.

I got a lot of fantastic questions this week. Keep them coming by asking me next time via Twitter or Instagram.

Do you think it’s more realistic for the Panthers to cut Cam Newton after this year, since he only costs $2 million in dead cap, or to give him a chance next year with a new coach? — @UgoDuru93

Is it time for the Panthers to clean house? The team hasn’t been the same since the 2018 Steelers game. — @edsterry

I grouped these two questions together because they hit on the same topic. I already wrote about what the Panthers can do to get Newton going. However, I didn’t touch on the “what if they don’t win games?” question.

I think it’s clear that new Panthers owner David Tepper isn’t going to be happy with another losing season. In that case, it’d be fair for him to fire Ron Rivera (who’d be hired the following day by another team because he’s an outstanding coach) and general manager Marty Hurney. I’d have to think Newton would be part of that purge, too. A new coach wouldn’t want to hitch his wagon to a banged up Cam Newton, and I wouldn’t blame him.

So, I wouldn’t expect any of the three in the building in 2020 if the Panthers finish with a losing record.

Hi, Geoff. At what point did the pain override your will to compete? Do you think Cam Newton and others will be more likely to retire at a young age due to Andrew Luck having the integrity to be honest about his inability to continue as a player? — @Dangertosociety

Thanks for the question. I spoke at length about my pain journey in the NFL in an article I wrote after Andrew Luck’s retirement. Since it’s worth the discussion still, I’ll give you a short summary.

The pain overrides your will to compete when the pain intrudes on your offseason. We understand the season is going to be a drag, mostly physically and emotionally. We have come to accept it, because we know in the offseason the pain should subside. Well, when you’re always hurt in the offseason or rehabbing an injury, the grind is real. And you have no time to recharge the batteries before the season starts. That wears on you and that’s when the pain becomes too much, which is what Luck spoke at length about.

I believe Luck’s early retirement isn’t going to be the norm moving forward, though. Not many players at his position have had the lengthy injury history he went through. Even Cam Newton hasn’t been as beat up. Now, I could see Cam retiring after this season if his coach gets fired. I can’t imagine a new coach wanting to stick with him and I can’t see Cam playing anywhere else.

Hi, Geoff. Why do a lot of coaches refuse to run a QB sneak on third-and-short or fourth-and-short, even though it is so efficient in those situations? — @Jose21crisis

Great question. The only team that routinely does a QB sneak in short-yardage situations is the New England Patriots, which should tell everyone they should be running it more often.

I think the fear is injury, but if blocked correctly, the quarterback shouldn’t be hurt. Nor should you be coaching scared, in my opinion. I think a bunch of these teams are always in shotgun, and therefore don’t want to risk a bad snap by putting the quarterback under center in those high-leverage situations.

However, like I said, you shouldn’t coach out of fear. I’d be practicing a QB sneak as much as possible to run in the game.

Do you think the Ravens will try and continue this air raid-type offense for the rest of the year? Or ultimately will they be run reliant and win with big plays? — @King_JOEmS

The Ravens’ offense is what we saw on Sunday: Running the ball with various backfield action, play-action pass, moving the pocket, RPOs, and then on third down, spread them out. It’s not an air raid, but it does look an awful lot like some of the concepts Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma runs.

Nevertheless, this is their offense and I do think it’s too limited to win playoff games, as we saw last season. I’m looking forward to seeing the offense this season against better defenses.

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