Soup to nuts on the 'Cam Newton: Phony' story

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Soup to nuts on the 'Cam Newton: Phony' story

By TomE. Curran
CSNNE.com
It's been a helluva week for Nolan Nawrocki. The reserved, respected draft analyzer for Pro Football Weekly and the author of their annual draft preview skewered the "intangibles" of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in this year's edition. I read it and wrote about it. Internet strongman Mike Florio of PFT linked to it. And away we went. First,Newton's quarterbacks coach George Whitfield weighed in with a failed Twitter takedown of Nawrocki in which he alleges Nawrocki has a rooting interest in seeing Newton fail and is trying toadvance his career with a negative review of the quarterback. That Whitfield is unaware of who Nawrocki is, the work Nawrocki's been doing for 10 years at PFW and, frankly, thatWhitfield didn't know before me what Nawrocki had written shows the quality of pre-draft advice Newton is getting. When Whitfield was done, Hall of Famer Warren Moon -- who's mentoring Newton -- stepped in. Moon embarrassed himself by alleging that criticism of Newton was rooted in racial bias. We're willing to give Moon a pass if he's oversensitive about how black quarterbacks are treated. He was a capable college quarterback at Washington that NFL teams wanted to convert into a tight end. Moon refused, went undrafted, fled to the CFL and became a legend. But he spoke ignorantly when saying to Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com, "I dont see other quarterbacks in the draft being criticized by the media or fans about their smile or called a phony. Hes being held to different standards from white quarterbacks. I thought we were past all this stuff about African-American quarterbacks, but I guess were not.Of course there is racism in every walk of society. Weve made a lot of progress in this country. But racism is still there. I just thought in the sports arena we were beyond it. I think the way Cam is being treated shows were not. . . . "As Florio points out, Moon need only recall all the way back to 2010 when Tim Tebow was getting mocked on the regular for being too pious, his convictions and motivations being constantly under scrutiny. Newton would need a month straight of that kind of treatment to even get close to what Tebow got. And Jimmy Clausen got devoured as well by Nawrocki on the same charges of being a phony. Moon went on to allege that neither Sam Bradford nor Colt McCoy got challengedlast year on their ability to run an NFL offense.Because they're white. "The thing that makes me laugh is the question of can he Newton come out of the spread offense? Can he run a pro offense? Colt McCoy came out of the spread offense and very few people raised that issue about him. So did Sam Bradford. Same thing. Very few questions asking if Bradford could run a pro offense. Some of these questions about Cam are more about his intellect. It's blatant racism, some of it."From Nawrocki's 2010 evaluation of Bradford: "Has not played much under center, operating heavily out of the shotgun, nor has made pro-style, NFL reads in OU's simplified offense."

From Nawrocki's 2010 evaluation of McCoy: "Played in an overly simplified offense that did not force the QB to learn the position and needs to be trained in the mechanics of dropping back from under center."One guideline for alleging racism is being sure you're right. Otherwise, it's obvious you're merely assuming the guy has it out for you because he's a different color than you which is . . . ta-dahhhh! racist. (Meanwhile, Ryan Mallett must be relieved he's white, otherwise Nawrocki might have written something nastier than "immature, is not a respected leader and character must be evaluated very closely" -- to say nothing of what others have alleged about Mallett). One last thing on this, it's amazing to me how news moves in 2011. A blogger named Lance Zierlein wrote, "(I)believe that the editors of PFW leaked Nolan's evaluation in order to draw attention to their product. I'm certain that was the case. And it worked. That wouldn't have been Nolan Nawrocki's call."Since the snowball started rolling with my blog, I can tell you it was the weakest "leak" you could imagine. After getting a complimentary copy on Monday of the PFW Draft Guide, I texted Eric Edholm, one of their writers and a pretty good friend to thank him for sending it because it's the best.He didn't seem to know it was sent to me, but said thanks. He told me to check out the Cam Newton evaluation. I did. My jaw dropped. I blogged. Then I e-mailed the link to PFT because we have a corporate relationship there and I'm personally friends with those guys. I knew a Cam Newton story was bigger news than just with my audience in New England. So Florio blogged it and the fire was lit. So, while Edholm told me to check it out, he didn't even know I'd been sent the copy. And had I not texted him, Edholm may not have alerted me to the scathing Newton review which, after I found on my own, I may have blogged on anyway. Or may not have. Interesting times we're in. Hope Nawrocki's wrong and Cam Newton has a wondrous career. But Nawrocki isn't wrong very often.
Tom E. Curran canbe reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rawls leads Seahawks to 40-7 pummeling of Panthers

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SUNDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL: Rawls leads Seahawks to 40-7 pummeling of Panthers

SEATTLE - Behind Thomas Rawls bouncing off and through tacklers and a big-play punch from Tyler Lockett, the Seattle Seahawks rediscovered their offensive star power on Sunday night.

It came at a significant cost to their defense.

Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Click here to read the complete story

Curran: Outcome expected, Patriots can still build off win vs. Rams

Curran: Outcome expected, Patriots can still build off win vs. Rams

FOXBORO – So they did precisely what they were supposed to do. Poleaxed a bad team that had come cross-country to get its whipping and then return home.

It’s hard to downgrade the Patriots for that. Not this time. Even though they were facing a rookie quarterback making his third NFL start in Jared Goff, even though the Rams were without wide receiver Tavon Austin, the net the Patriots threw over the Rams offense was so stifling that those qualifiers don’t count.

The Rams went 1-for-9 on third down. They were 0-for-8 before the late conversion. They didn’t get over 100 total yards until their final drive of the game and that required a breakdown by Malcolm Butler on Kenny Britt. Britt, the Rams best offensive player this season, hadn’t had a catch before that.

PATRIOTS 26, RAMS 10

So what if the Patriots used the Rams as their step stool to get to the next rung? So what if they were supposed to do exactly that? They’d had other matchups this season when they hadn’t choked out lesser opponents. This time they did.

And some of the players who figured prominently are precisely some of the players who’ve had their struggles.

Jabaal Sheard, benched two weeks ago, forced a pick and three passes defensed. Logan Ryan, who’s seen his role change and playing time dwindle, had a sack on a corner blitz and had two quarterback hits to go with five tackles. Kyle Van Noy, still fitting into the defense, had a pick, a pass defensed and four tackles. Alan Branch, who hasn’t struggled but had an NFL suspension hanging over his head until the league rescinded it Saturday, was his normal nuisance up front. Chris Long and Shea McClellin, both new to the team this year, had sacks.

“That happens around here,” explained Dont'a Hightower. “The next-man-up mentality has been here for a few years. Guys don’t play early then later in the season, they get right whatever it was that wasn’t right and they come back and we play well. It’s about us playing together.”

Hightower has steadily proclaimed that the defense has the talent and self-belief necessary to get where it needs to be on a consistent basis.  

“I feel like every week should be like this regardless of who we’re playing,” he said. “We had a great week of practice. Everyone was all in the same mindset, the same focus. (Defensive coordinator Matty Patricia) again did a great job of calling the game, mixing it up. We just went out there and executed.”

As the Patriots head into the final four games of their schedule, the caliber of their competition will rise. The next opponent, Baltimore, has won four of five including a 38-6 demolition of the Dolphins on Sunday.

The Broncos are up after the Ravens and that game will be in Denver, never an easy spot for the Patriots to say the least.

The Patriots close at home with the always-annoying Jets and then have to go to South Florida to play Miami in the New Year’s Day finale.  

“We’re just one week at a time,” said Ryan. “You can’t break this season off a couple weeks. Next week, we see what Baltimore [Ravens] just did, they’re a real good team. We know how that’s been in the past so it should be a nice game, a competitive game, competitive atmosphere. We’re just one week at a time, we’re happy we got this game and we’re on to the next one.”

It’s hard to point to this game and say, “All’s fixed.”

It was the outcome expected and there was no letdown. Part of the process.

“It’s December, time to play our best football,” said Devin McCourty. "We’ve been at it for a while now dating back to the beginning of training camp. Things we’ve talked about working on and things we’ve talked about improving, it’s time to start improving on those things and getting them done. Bill [Belichick] said it over and over that who we play each week is not going to matter if we don’t come and fix the things we need to fix and play the way we need to play. I think the whole team understands that and it starts with him, but [also] us echoing it as captains and as leaders. Today I think showed that when we do those things, we go out there and play well.”

The principals in this win – players like Sheard and Ryan – signaled that concerns over buy-in and locker room fissures appearing after playing time was shifted and personnel was shipped out were probably unfounded.

It’s a tough place to play because performance matters and there’s not a lot of, “That’s ok, you’ll get ‘em next time…” with this coaching staff.

It’s mentally challenging.

“That might be an understatement,” laughed Hightower. “But that’s part of the process, that’s part of the Patriot way and we try to adapt to it.”