If there’s one play that sums up Luke Kuechly’s season – and is representative of how he’s played pretty much his entire career – it has to be the one Kuechly made on the opening snap of the second half at Cleveland.
Off play-action designed to catch Carolina’s defense flowing the wrong way, Kuechly and fellow linebacker Thomas Davis saw it coming from a mile away. Kuechly reversed field before the fake was completely carried out and swarmed receiver Jarvis Landry, jarring the ball loose to set up Davis for a fumble recovery.
The play was among a franchise-record 20 tackles for loss for Kuechly in 2018, when he appeared to be as good as ever at knowing what the offense was planning to do and then being able to do something about it. Many of his tackles for loss came on passes near the line of scrimmage, be them to receivers or backs.
Kuechly was his usual self this past season, ranking eighth in the league with 130 tackles based on press box stats. He played in every game for the first time since 2014 to increase his career tackle total to 948 – most in the league since he arrived as a rookie in 2012.
Kuechly was named a first-team All-Pro for the fifth time in his illustrious career, matching J.J. Watt of the Texans for the most such honors among players on rosters this past season. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be making a run at a sixth first-team nod in 2019.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton posted a YouTube video Monday, asking his teammates to join him in practicing celibacy in hopes of making the Super Bowl this season.
If that sounds a little crazy, keep in mind it was posted on April Fools’ Day.
That suggests the likelihood that this is all an elaborate, well-produced joke on fans and the media, which was obsessed last month with Newton’s admission on the James Cordon’s “Late Late Show” that he gave up sex in March to hone his focus.
Newton explains in his nearly three-minute video that he sees the world differently now, through “celibate eyes.”
“Those 31 days has changed my life in ways that I probably would never have expected,” Newton says in the video. “I felt stronger, mentally as well as physically. I felt clean. I just see things differently. It has changed my life in incredible ways.”
Hence, Newton says he’s decided to launch a “Carolina Panthers Super Bowl celibacy challenge.”
“I am going to challenge everybody on my team to not have no climax for the whole football season,” he says in the video. “It’s going to be trying, but it will be worth it. We’ll have a lot of focus.”
Newton says he has already gotten several other Panthers to buy into the idea, including Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, all of whom are featured in the video.
“So get ready everybody. This is about to be the Carolina Panthers’ year,” Newton concludes. “It’s gotta be, or one of the wives is going to kill me.”
The video has been viewed thousands of times since being posted, and amassed hundreds of comments, including a few from people who suspected it was a joke.
“I can never tell if YouTubers be serious when they post stuff on April fools or not, because it could be a coincidence that they post it today,” wrote someone named L’il Pepsii on YouTube.
Others seemed to take Newton seriously, including a few fans who wished him good luck.
“This is awesome going vegan and celibate. I hope it works: Panthers Super Bowl Champs sounds good to me!” posted Rich 806.