Quarterbacks, controversies and everything NFL Week Five covered in the first ever iteration of Five Hot Takes.

  1. What was Cam Newton thinking?

Cam Newton started this season on a tear, playing his best football since his 2015 MVP season and had his Carolina Panthers sitting atop the NFC South at 4-1 through five weeks.

If you take away his zero touchdown and three interception performance in Week Three, Newton has thrown eight touchdowns to just two interceptions in four Carolina wins. He was beginning to quiet many of the doubters, showing that his down-year last season was just a fluke.

But no one is thinking about Cam Newton the football player now.

During a routine midweek press conference, Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer asked Newton about Panthers wide receiver Devin Funchess’ route-running progression. His response:

“It’s funny to hear a female talk about routes. Like, it’s funny.”

To make matters worse, he stated that he was trying to pay her a compliment, but his sarcasm fell flat.

Quite frankly, Newton should know better. He’s been a national sensation since his Heisman-winning college days at Auburn, and should be used to people scrutinizing his every word, especially since this isn’t his first press conference gaff. He famously stormed out of the post-Super Bowl 50 press conference, leading to negative remarks about his maturity level and leadership.

But his sexist remark is a whole new level of despicable. There is no place for that in the NFL, or America for that matter. There are plenty of high-level women sports reports, many of whom are better at their jobs than their male counterparts. Newton’s comment shows an antiquated way of thinking and an utter lack of maturity and respect.

So far, Newton has gone unpunished. He did lose his sponsorship deal with Dannon, but the NFL is unlikely to fine or suspend him.

This issue is one where fines should be given out. NFL players have been fined for stupid “offenses,” such as wearing a Vitamin Water hat to Super Bowl Media Day or wearing Beats headphones to press conferences. If those are punishable, Newton’s sexist comment more than warrants disciplinary measures.

 

  1. Ben Roethlisberger has gas left in the tank

Ben Roethlisberger had never thrown more than three interceptions in a game. That was until this week, when the Jacksonville Jaguars picked him off five times, including two pick-sixes.

The career worst performance led the Steelers quarterback to say “Maybe I don’t have it anymore” in a post-game press conference.

Even at age 35, this is blasphemy on Roethlisberger’s part. Before this game, the Miami University alum had Pittsburgh off to a 3-1 start, while throwing six touchdowns, to only two interceptions.

It’s normal for players to slow down as they age. However, other than Week Five, Roethlisberger was still playing good football. This game looks to just be a fluke. It was surprising to hear Big Ben publically doubt himself in this fashion, but there shouldn’t be too much worrying about him going forward. He’s still a high level NFL quarterback, and teams like the Cleveland Browns or the San Francisco 49ers would love to have him right now.

 

  1. Injuries

Week Five saw a plethora of NFL stars succumb to injuries. The Houston Texans and the New York Giants were hit the hardest, as Houston lost two of its top-three pass-rushers and the Giants lost their top-four wide receivers.

The Texans announced that J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus are done for the year.

Arguably the most talented defensive player in the NFL when healthy, Watt is the bigger loss. He sustained a tibial plateau fracture in his left leg. One has to wonder that at 28-years-old, coming off a 2016 season essentially lost to back surgery, Watt may not be the monster he once was. He didn’t record a single sack in five games this year, so there are already signs of slowing down.

With both Watt and Mercilus out, Houston will count on Jadeveon Clowney to step up and provide a pass-rushing spark in their absences.

The New York Giants wide receivers had a tough day Sunday as Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris and Sterling Shepard all left Sunday’s game with injuries.

Beckham Jr., Marshall and Harris were all ruled out for the rest of the season, whereas Shepard is listed as day-to-day.

With Eli Manning and the offense already struggling, Manning will have a herculean task ahead of him after losing those guys — especially with OBJ being one of the best playmakers in football. Manning’s new top targets will be Shepard (who may not even play Week Six), Roger Lewis, Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan. Not exactly a murderer’s row. Shepard is a legitimate big play weapon out of the slot, but Lewis, King, Rudolph and Eagain have 19 career catches between the four of them.

Lastly, Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert is scheduled to have season-ending back surgery, per Adam Schefter. This adds to a long list of injuries for Eifert, as he’s only played 10 games in the last two years combined.

 

  1. The White House vs. the anthem protests isn’t over

Vice-President Mike Pence left the Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers game this week after some players knelt during the playing of the National Anthem.

President Trump later revealed in a tweet that he had asked Pence to leave the game if any players knelt during the anthem.

49ers safety Eric Reid commented after the game that this looked like a premeditated publicity stunt.

One has to be suspicious that Pence was at the game for this sole purpose. It seems to have President Trump’s fingerprints all over it.

 

  1. From Saint to Cardinal

The New Orleans Saints traded running back Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a condition 2018 sixth-round pick, ending Peterson’s disastrous and short-lived tenure in the Big Easy.

The 32-year-old was buried on the depth chart behind Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, and received only 27 total carries in the first four games of the year. Peterson’s performance certainly didn’t justify an uptick in playing time, as he averaged only three yards per carry.

With David Johnson injured, Peterson will be the featured back in the desert, and looks to improve a rushing attack that ranks dead-last in the NFL this season.

He’s only two years removed from leading the league in rushing, but there isn’t much hope of Peterson returning to that level. He’s well past the typical age of decline for running backs, and is coming off a serious injury suffered a year ago. There is an expectation of Peterson bringing some stability to the Cardinal backfield, and he should be expected to average more than three yards a carry the rest of the year. However, his days as the top running back in the NFL are long gone.

It’s a shame that Peterson’s most memorable moment as a Saint was screaming at head coach Sean Payton, due to a playing time dispute.

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