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by Kadeem Simmonds
at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Kyle Allen has given the Carolina Panthers a difficult decision when Cam Newton returns from injury.
The wins have been there for Allen as the starter in Carolina since Newton’s injury in Week 2 — the team are 4-0 with No 7 under centre.
And on performances like yesterday, a 37-26 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in London, pulling the sophomore QB would be the wrong move.
“Quite honestly, I don't answer the question,” head coach Ron Rivera said when asked about the quarterback situation. “I'm not going to worry, speculate on anything until I have to address that.
“Until then, we're going to stay in the now, focus on what
we're doing right now. Again, as far as I'm concerned, we're just not going to deal with the question until it's time. When the time comes, I will address it.
“As far as I'm concerned, he's [Newton] in his rehab programme, doing his programme. Our quarterback right now has been playing for us is Kyle. We're not going to address it.”
While the game plan since Newton’s injury has been to run the entire offence through Christian McCaffrey, the running back has excelled to the extent that he’s currently in the race for league MVP, Allen has executed when called upon time and time again.
No-one could have expected Allen would step in, and up, like a veteran when Newton went down, many predicted that was the end of their season.
On their first touchdown-drive of the afternoon, Allen took the team 99 yards over 12 plays and had some excellent throws before McCaffrey punched it in from the one-yard line.
All he can do is execute when called upon and execute he has, earning praise from Rivera.
“He's been very consistent for us. He's made the plays we needed. I think this is a big part of why we felt so confident coming into training camp with the guys that we had, because we know what we have with Kyle, we know what we could potentially have with Will,
and Taylor Heinicke is a guy we felt comfortable with as well. We felt we had a good situation with our backup guys.”
If anything is going to get Allen benched for Newton it will be his fumble problem. But with none on Sunday, Allen said that with experience it will go away and that the past couple of weeks was “unacceptable.”
“Continue to work on it, man. I think it comes with experience. Like he asked, everything comes with experience. It's different when you're in practice and you don't have people hitting you. That's what I've been doing for the past year and a half.
“When you're in the game, people are coming at you, they can actually hit you, All right, I got to protect the ball now.
“That was unacceptable the past couple weeks. Happy we didn't have turnovers on offence today.”
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner is scheming players wide open and Allen is putting the ball on the money, finishing the day 20 of 32 passes for 227 and two touchdowns.
His first through the air, and McCaffrey’s second TD of the day, was a thing of beauty.
Allen dumped it off to the back, who squared up Bucs corner Vernon Hargreaves III and juked him out of boots, Hargreaves ended up on the floor.
Safety Jordan Whitehead was the next defender grasping air and following a stiff arm seconds later to flailing Bucs linebacker Devin White, Run CmC was in the end zone.
McCaffrey has made Allen’s job a lot easier, as has tight end Greg Olsen and wide receivers DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel.
“Yeah, I think it's more scheme than anything,” said Allen when asked if he has more confidence in his receivers. “I don't think there was a
confidence issue before, putting the ball outside the numbers. I think this was a team today that we knew they were going to play heavy inside, leverage a lot during the day. We were going to have to make those long throws, make those deep over-route throws. Credit to our receivers today. They got open when they needed to get open, created that easy separation for me.”
Rivera added: “He did [make clutch plays]. We missed some opportunities as well. We have to make plays when they're presented to us. That's one of the things we talked about, being play makers.
“The ball was there. We had some guys step up and make some plays. Curtis Samuels, run, catch, Samuels had a solid day. So did DJ, Greg coming up the way he did. When guys can step up when other guys are being focused on, that's what we're hoping for.
“Again, they focused in on Christian. Christian wasn't going to beat them, that's fine. The other guys around him were able to make plays. I think that's what led to the victory.”
With the Panthers now on their bye, Allen said his focus is solely on the next opponent.
“Some rest, recovery, then focus on the 49ers. That's who we got next, right?
“We'll get a couple days off.”
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