The Panthers struggled for much of the first half but made it a game in the 4th. Here’s a look at the grades for the Panthers yesterday:
Where to begin. CMC played every snap and was the only real bright spot on offense. CMC was the first player in the Super Bowl era to catch 10 passes and accumulate 120 rushing yards in two career games. He finished the day with 2 TDs and over 200 yds from scrimmage. Newton made a few nice throws but seemed to regress on a couple passes, overthrowing Curtis Samuel in the 4th that would have likely been a touchdown and given the Panthers a late lead. D.J. Moore has got to get his ball security under control or he may see less time in the starting lineup. The O-line did a decent job of keeping the reigning defensive player of the year, Aaron Donald, out of the backfield but couldn’t seem to give Cam much time in the pocket. Overall, if the Panthers show up in the first half, the result of the game may be different. Turnovers killed multiple drives.
Grade: C+ (Thanks to McCaffery)
While the Defense did not get a sack in the game, they played well enough for the Panthers to win. Holding one of the NFL’s most potent offenses to just 13 points in the first half is pretty tough. James Bradberry came up with an impressive interception in the 4th to give the Panthers a chance late but Newton gave the ball back throwing an interception a few plays later. This Defense was not the reason for the loss but they are going to have to generate pressure going forward in order to win football games.
Aside from Slye’s missed FG on his first attempt, Special Teams was the star for the Panthers. Slye made 2/3 FG and Palardy was solid as usual. The Panthers got an unexpected boost late, blocking a Rams punt, setting them up with great field position to score a late TD but it was too little too late. It’s been a while since the Panthers have had a solid special teams unit so this was a nice surprise.
While many expected Cam to be rusty, I don’t think anyone expected the Panthers to get off to such a sluggish start, except maybe, Panthers fans? It seems like the same narrative every year: Missed opportunities.
The Panthers have struggled to put together two solid halves of football not just on a game to game basis, but week to week, even month to month. Inconsistency has plagued the franchise for years, you can see it in games and on paper.
The Carolina Panthers have NEVER had back to back winning seasons in their 25-year existence. The only thing that is consistent about the Panthers is their lack of consistency year in and year out. While I do expect the Panthers to rebound, they are going to have to do some serious work pushing the ball down the field if they want anyone to fear the run.