The author names his 'All Hinge' team with criteria for making the list as follows:
To make the 2014 All-Hinge Team, you just have to have the whole season riding on you.
Very hard to argue otherwise regarding Newton, who was #1 on his list. I get the feeling Newton was the inspiration for the post from the outside.
Quarterback: Cam Newton, Panthers.
Newton helped the Panthers row their boat deep into the NFC playoff picture last year. The team rewarded him by snapping his oars in half and marooning him in a life raft with an empty water bottle. Newton's receiving corps consists of unprepared rookies and aging fourth-receiver types; meanwhile, the NFC South has gotten more competitive. Newton has a chance to prove his critics and advocates of the wisdom of surrounding a quarterback with half-decent weapons wrong. It's the Spartan Baby method of player development, and while it may appeal to our get-tough sensibilities, it is important to note Sparta has not won a war in more than 2000 years.
First I have to acknowledge use of a pretty good analogy with the whole snapping of the oars. Fairly spot on.
Yet while on paper he seems to have a good argument I in turn think this. Those 'rookies and fourth-receiver types' are no worse than what the Panthers fielded in those areas last season. There are only two exceptions which have been well discussed here on CSR but warrant inclusion in the discussion.
We will miss the big catches from Steve Smith, the 3rd down conversions, thew down field blocking and nightmares he will cause opposing DBs. But Smith's impact on a game was lessening and his leadership was being replaced. In turn we now have a rookie WR with red zone potential this team hasn't seen since Muhsin Muhammad graced #87.
The other exception is at LT and though I'm not as confident as the coaching staff in OT Byron Bell I am confident they do not plan to leave him on an island frequently. Notice how much the Panthers mentioned RB Tyler Gaffney is good at blocking the pass rush. I'm not saying Gaffney will get on the field in 2014, simply that it's a skill the Panthers are focused on. It's such a focus of the Panthers offense that I think they will have a game plan that limits Bells exposure.
Sure it would be nice to have a LT you can line up and not think about but the Panthers have made a decision to go in another direction. Instead I will focus on the fact this coaching staff pulled a 12-4 season out of the ashes of a 1-3 start with unproven rookies and average players starting on both sides of the ball.
Does that lighten the burden placed on Cam Newton? No not really, at least mentally anyway. If Newton is given an effective ground game while also more two TE sets he should feel less pressure than he was feeling down the stretch in 2013. In that scenario he can have success but the season will still hinge on Newton. In that I cannot argue.