Amid the driving rain in Charlotte on Monday night, Jon Gruden added fog.
Neither Cam Newton nor Andrew Luck quarterbacked with particular distinction in the Carolina Panthers’ 29-26 overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colts. And there is a certain similarity to the way they attack a defense. Gruden, ESPN’s analyst, just didn’t see it that way.
Both make plays with their legs. Both buy time to let things open up downfield. Luck has better receivers. Heck, he just plain has receivers. Newton is more or less out there without top-quality people lined up wide.
Yet when Newton took off to run the ball, Gruden chastised him for not protecting himself more and for taking big hits.
Not five minutes later, when Luck tucked the ball and ran, Gruden praised him for being decisive. Beg pardon there, Chucky? Say what?
It is Luck, not Newton, who has missed two games with injuries this year and is said to be playing through fractured ribs (for which he has not been listed on the team’s injury report). Newton has only missed two games in his five seasons.
By the end of a miserable night, Luck had run the ball six times for 35 yards and Newton had 10 rushes for 41.
There are a couple of reasons Carolina is one of four 7-0 teams – its defense, and Newton. His style may not lend itself to great individual statistics, but it carries his team to victory. Luck threw three interceptions against the Panthers, has 122 for the season, and is 1-5 as the starter.
What was Gruden thinking? Who knows? It was a weird observation and a strange turnabout regarding who should be doing what in a very short span of time.
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman .
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