Time to hit the sack?
A question fans in the UK will have been asking themselves as they battled hard in the early hours of Monday morning to keep their eyes open, just long enough to watch the Denver Broncos win Super Bowl 50, wondering how their own efforts did not warrant them the title of MVP.
The word sack will have been so imprinted on the mind of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton- who was sacked seven times- that the idea of hitting the sack after his team’s defeat will have been inconceivable.
Cam Newton sacked seven times? A quite astonishing statistic when you consider how he had been untouchable for the majority of the season. A statistic that also recognises how the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 and why their defense is being dubbed by many as the best ever.
The season may have ended, but there has been a lot to talk about over the past week.
Cam will be back…
Denver’s Super Bowl success had to compete against reaction to Cam Newton’s tense post-match press conference for this week’s news headlines.
The label ‘sore loser’ infected articles as the MVP quarterback was unfairly criticised for his blunt responses to questions asked by journalists following his side’s Super Bowl defeat in California.
The media are guilty of blowing the situation out of proportion, even if Newton did later admit to being a ‘bad loser’. The NFL’s best player all season had just lost in his first Super Bowl- how did people expect him to react?
He told reporters: “I know who I am and I’m not about to conform nor bend for anybody’s expectations because your or anybody else’s expectations will never exceed mine.”
There was no harm done by how he presented himself. It’s about how he responds that counts. Even criticism towards him deciding not to try and recover his fumble late on in the game was unnecessary. To question his commitment in this instance is an insult to what he stands for.
He is a leader and was largely responsible for the Panthers making it to the Super Bowl. He claims that he didn’t attempt to recover the ball as his standing position meant he could get injured. It is only right that the media accepts this.
He cannot be blamed for walking out of the press conference after hearing Broncos players nearby bragging about how they managed to stop him in the game. It was a ridiculous idea to put opposition players in the same room for post-game interviews in the first place.
It certainly won’t be Cam Newton’s last Super Bowl and you would back him all the way to win at least one in his career. His expression following the loss defined an utterly devastated man, but not a defeated one. Ron Rivera’s Panthers are equally as blessed to have Cam Newton’s character in the locker room as much as they are to have his talent on the field.
He has the spirit and desire to bounce back and can look forward to potentially dominating the NFL for the next decade, should he live up to expectations and build on his phenomenal season.
Who should be franchise tagged?
Teams will be lurking in the off-season, ready to pounce on the possible free agents on the market. The Broncos must do all that they can to keep hold of outside linebacker and Super Bowl MVP Von Miller.
General Manager John Elway is likely to apply the franchise tag to Miller- who will soon be out of contract- after he helped the Broncos to Super Bowl glory.
He inspired Denver to outstanding defensive displays in the post season matchups, helping to restrict the 4th best offense in the Pittsburgh Steelers to just 16 points, the 3rd best in the New England Patriots to 18 points and the best offense in the Carolina Panthers to just 10 points. He managed 2.5 sacks against both the Patriots and Panthers in the process, adding to the 11 he made during the regular season.
His importance to Gary Kubiak’s side means he could be made the highest paid defender in the NFL in order to keep hold of his services. The 2011 draft pick was instrumental for the Broncos all season and was responsible for kick starting his team’s Super Bowl win when he swiped the ball from Cam Newton’s grasp to set Malik Jackson up for the first touchdown.
The Broncos won’t want to lose any part of last season’s number one ranked defense- especially Miller. Rival teams can stop dreaming as there is no way the Broncos will be letting him go.
The Carolina Panthers will also be eager to keep cornerback Josh Norman. The Panthers may look to apply the franchise tag to Norman to assess him over the next season before eventually negotiating a contract.
He was explosive at times last season and emerged as one of the top corners in the NFL, evidenced by some strong play in a fiery matchup against New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jnr.
Norman recorded four interceptions last season- two of which he returned for touchdowns- as well as defending 18 passes and forcing three fumbles.
Time for Peyton to go…
How many times has the cliché ‘time to ride out into the sunset’ been used to describe Peyton Manning’s situation?
Manning has two Super Bowl wins and is the NFL’s all-time leader in passing yards with 71,940 and in touchdown passes with 539. He has achieved everything he could possibly wish to, which is why it is time to move on. He deserves to go out as a champion and be remembered for finishing his career with Super Bowl 50 victory.
Broncos running back CJ Anderson told NFL Total Access: “Let him ride off into the sunset in the correct way. What else does he have to do? He’s got five MVPs, two Super Bowl rings, he’s first in every statistical category.”
Make way for Brock Osweiler…
Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler was extremely unlucky to lose his place for the playoff games having impressed as Peyton Manning’s replacement in the second half of the regular season.
If Peyton Manning does retire as many expect him to do so, Osweiler is the obvious long term solution. Prior to the post season, the young quarterback played 8 games, throwing 10 touchdown passes and completing 170 out of 275 passes for 1967 yards. A steady period in the side for a player backed by many Broncos fans.
The danger for the Broncos is that they could face losing Osweiler on the free agency market in the off-season, with it looking more likely to be Miller who is given the franchise tag. The Super Bowl 50 champions certainly want to keep him though and will be keen to stop other teams getting hold of such a promising talent.
Our weekends might be less exciting without Football on the screens, but there will always be news within the NFL. The off-season will be extremely interesting as teams look to rebuild in the upcoming draft and the two Super Bowl 50 finalists do their bit to ensure they are competing with the best yet again next season.