One star was born on Monday night. Another, recharged.
With both, however, there are strings attached.
There were few stains on Bryce Brown’s 19 rush, 178-yard, two-touchdown demolition of the Panthers’ front seven.
The seventh-round pick was decisive at the point of attack, explosive through the hole and around the edge, and just plain hard to bring down.
Of his 19 runs, five went for 10 or more yards, while just eight gained fewer than five. That means he got the Eagles at least halfway to a first down on 57.9 percent of his carries. More than a quarter of his totes covered at minimum the entire length of the chains.
It was an introduce yourself to the world, young man performance if there ever was one.
There was just the small matter of Brown essentially costing the Eagles the game — admittedly, a contest they wouldn’t have even been competitive in if not for their rookie back’s efforts — by committing two of the softest fumbles you’ll ever see.
Brown carried the ball like a family heirloom, afraid to grip it tight for fear it might shatter. The loose ways killed two drives and resulted in three Panthers points in a game they’d go on to win by eight.
Again, the Eagles wouldn’t have even had a shot at their elusive fourth victory had Brown not put them on his back. But his fumbles were the kind of careless mistakes that will land any player in the doghouse if they keep making them, let alone a rookie who is filling-in for LeSean McCoy.
Which brings us to our second bucket of cold water. Brown was great, but he’s not unseating McCoy, who could return from his concussion as early as Sunday. Brown’s certainly not headed back to 3-4 touch purgatory, but he’s also not going to be in for anything close to a starter’s workload once Shady is back in the fold.
That means you must exercise caution on the waiver wire. It’s true that even one more Brown start could be worth the big bucks if McCoy is out for Week 13. But if you have designs on Brown carrying your team once the fantasy playoff fur begins to fly, you’ll likely be headed home disappointed.
How A Resurrection Really Feels?
While Brown was exploding onto the scene, Cam Newton was reminding everyone he’s still there.
Coming off a strong game against the Bucs, Newton turned in his best performance of the season. He didn’t screw around with the ball as a passer — completing 18-of-28 throws for 306 yards and two touchdowns — and was discerning as a runner, picking the right spots to pull it down. He finished with 52 yards and two scores on 14 carries.
The rub? Newton’s passing touchdowns were the easiest you’ll ever see. Todd Bowles’ mesmerizingly bad defense flat-out didn’t cover Gary Barnidge or Brandon LaFell on simple seam routes, resulting in embarrassingly straightforward “pitch and catch” for the Panthers. It would have been concerning had Newton not thrown for touchdowns on either play.
But here’s where you can’t get too picky. Newton did what he was supposed to do against a bad defense, just like he did vs. Tampa in Week 11.
He made sure to pad his numbers against a bad unit, instead of allowing the reverse to happen: letting a bad defense look good.
It’s not high praise, but is further evidence he’s gotten his season back on track. Newton has just two turnovers over his past four starts after losing the ball 11 times through his first seven games, and has posted a QB rating of 95.8 or above three times since Week 9.
You could argue Newton really never went away, but either way, he’s looking like someone you can rely on down the stretch, even if he has been getting help from soft competition. Besides, it’s not like his schedule will be stiffening.
Monday Night Football Quick Slants: DeSean Jackson left in the first quarter with what was later diagnosed as a rib cartilage injury. The fact that he missed over three quarters of action coupled with the Eagles being on a short week makes him shaky for Week 13. … Jonathan Stewart left with an ankle injury. Having another rough night before his departure, he won’t be an illuminating flex option if he can suit up against the Chiefs. … Nick Foles didn’t appear ready for prime time, and is averaging a Gabbert-esque 4.8 yards over his first 67 pass attempts. He’s not a viable option in two-QB leagues.
Good Night, Chris
Norval Turner survived another Monday, but Titans OC Chris Palmer didn’t. Two years removed from coaching the UFL’s Hartford Colonials, Palmer was handed his walking papers after his unit generated just 19 points against the lowly Jaguars.
With five games left to go, the Titans are sporting the league’s No. 19 rushing attack, No. 21 aerial show and No. 19 scoring offense.
Those aren’t the kind of numbers that usually result in a midseason firing, but then again, we know the seats have grown warm in Tennessee.
QBs coach Dowell Loggains will call the shots for the remainder of 2012. What can we expect to change? Although it’s true Loggains is well-regarded, not much.
Five games simply isn’t enough to time to make the kind of changes that will light up box scores. Perhaps Jared Cook and Kendall Wright will be on the field more, and maybe Jake Locker’s reins will be loosened. But the end result shouldn’t be much different than the mediocre product Palmer has overseen since 2011.
Quick Slants: Ben Roethlisberger (ribs, shoulder) is "going to try" to play in Week 13. The first step will be “trying” to practice on Wednesday. … Bills coach Chan Gailey confirmed C.J. Spiller will remain his starter going forward, but that he’ll still cede roughly 40 percent of his snaps to back-up Fred Jackson. We expect Spiller to produce like a low-end RB1 down the stretch. … Andre Brown (broken leg) is done for the season unless the Giants make the Super Bowl. David Wilson will take over as New York’s COP back, but Ahmad Bradshaw should handle goal-line work. … Although Miles Austin (hip, hamstring) expects to "do something" in Wednesday's practice, he’s still shaky at best for Sunday. … Darren McFadden’s teammates reportedly expect him back for Week 13. This is as good a time as any to remind you that with McFadden, seeing is believing. … The Detroit Free Press believes Ryan Broyles has surpassed Titus Young for good. So do we. … Kyle Williams (torn ACL) is done for the season. … Kendall Hunter (ankle) is in a walking boot.