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The Rookies

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If you told me before the season that after Week 15 the Carolina Panthers and the New York Jets would have the same record I would’ve thought you’ve gone mad. But here we are, 15 weeks in and the Panthers have lost 7 of their last 8 and sit at 5-9 on the year.

Run CMC Keeps Breaking Records

In a game of up and downs for the Panthers one star shined bright, Christian McCaffrey. Before today’s game, CMC lead the league in total touchdowns with 16. Now, that total has increased to 18 as he had 2 of the three Carolina scores. McCaffrey totaled 87 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground and caught 8 passes for 88 yards. With his 175 yards from scrimmage today, McCaffrey became the first player in franchise history to have 2,000+ scrimmage yards in a single season.

Turnovers, Turnovers, Turnovers

The passing game was not nearly as successful as the running game. Kyle Allen finished the day completing 61% of his passes for 277 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Allen threw his three interceptions in 5 plays.

Allen won his first four starts this season and dating back to 2018, became the first quarterback in NFL history to win his first 5 starts with 0 interceptions. Since then, he has thrown 15 interceptions. Allen has now thrown 17 touchdowns this season and has 22 total turnovers, including the 7 fumbles he’s lost this season.

With the Panthers on a six game losing streak a common question is beginning to pop up- “When will Grier start?”

Will we see Will Grier this season? 

The Panthers drafted Will Grier in the third round of last year’s draft. I didn’t expect him to play one snap this year, but with Cam Newton on IR and Allen struggling week-after-week, his appearance on the field seems more and more likely. Cam Newton will be a big name, and a big target, this offseason.

Newton’s contract expires after the 2020 season and he hasn’t played since Week 2 of this season. David Tepper has made it clear that if Newton is healthy then he will return as QB1 for Carolina…. IF he’s healthy. Newton posted on his Instagram that he had a successful foot surgery and he was in attendance at today’s game. He invited a couple of kids from Levine’s Children Hospital to join him in a suite in Bank of America Stadium to enjoy a day of Panther Football.

With the Panthers out of the playoffs and two games remaining, doesn’t it seem reasonable to start Will Grier against Indianapolis next week? It’ll be a tough task for Grier as he is entering a pretty dreary situation. Six game losing streak, interim head coach, and an owner who’s very vocalized about making changes- not the ideal situation for a rookie quarterback to get his start. Kyle Allen has shown us what he’s capable of. He got off to a hot start, leading the Panthers on a 4-game win streak, and then fell off after the 49ers game. Allen has proven that he can win, but he’s also shown that he struggles when the offense seems to rest solely on his shoulders. This season, the Carolina Panthers are 5-0 when Kyle Allen throws 35 passes or less. They’re 0-7 when Allen throws more than 35 times. The Panthers aren’t winning when they have to rely on Kyle Allen’s arm.

I think it’s time to see something from Will Grier, mainly to see what the situation at quarterback is behind Cam Newton. If Will Grier looks like he can’t produce for the Panthers either, do they go into this year’s draft looking to pick another quarterback? In his postgame press conference, Perry Fewel said he’s going to evaluate tape before considering if Grier will play next week or not.

Attendance Issues 

Another issue arising in this losing stretch for Carolina is attendance. Bank of America Stadium and the Panthers saw a slight decrease in attendance earlier in the year when the Panthers were above .500. One hypothesis was because franchise QB Cam Newton was on IR. Now with the Panthers’ recent struggles, it seems there are more visible blue seats in the stadium week after week. I can’t speak for a majority of PSL Owners, but I know two who live in my neighborhood. The biggest conflict that consumes them after a Panthers loss is “Do I want to renew my PSLs for next year?” They’re some of the biggest Panthers fans I know, but as you already know PSLs are expensive, and some fans are rightfully hesitant to renew them if their team isn’t winning and doesn’t look like they will in the future. That’s why I think  Grier should get a shot. Coaches, players, and fans need to see what the possible future quarterback looks like, because as of now it isn’t Kyle Allen.

David Tepper is a money-man. As the owner of the organization, the last thing he wants to see is a decrease in PSL purchases and ticket sales overall. With sports, there is a simple formula: You win and you make money. The Panthers should put the players on the field that give them the best chance to win. Allen constantly throwing picks and having the 30th-best QBR in the league is making it harder for them to win.

The Panthers are 0-6 in their last 6 games. During that stretch they have turned the ball over 16 times and only have 2 takeaways. 11 of those 16 turnovers are interceptions thrown by Allen and both of the takeaways belong to Tre Boston. It is clear that turnovers are the culprit of the Panthers struggles and Allen is the culprit of the Panthers’ turnovers. It’s time to see what Will Grier has to offer. Grier cannot cause more harm than what’s already been done.

Notable Panthers Performances 

  • D.J. Moore: 8 rec. 114 yards, 14.1 Avg
  • Curtis Samuel: 54 scrimmage yards, 1 TD
  • Luke Kuechly: 17 tackles
  • Vernon Butler: 5 tackles, Sack
  • Bruce Irvin: 4 tackles, Sack
  •  Tre Boston: INT
  • Joey Slye: 1/1 FG, 52 yards. Became first Kicker in franchise history to hit 7 50+ yard FG in a single season