The Carolina Panthers are 1-1 on the season after falling 31-24 to their division rival Atlanta Falcons. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly from Sunday’s loss.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but for the most part rookies Donte Jackson and DJ Moore looked good in their first NFC South Showdown. Moore, who was targeted twice, scored his first NFL touchdown on a 51 yard reception (although he was unable to come down with the ball on the potentially game-tying last play of the game) and Donte Jackson, who continues to impress, recorded six tackles and his first NFL interception, (despite getting beaten by fellow rookie Calvin Ridley for a score). On a team that’s one of the oldest in the league, these rookies proved to be a bright spot in Sunday’s game and for the future.
Despite allowing over 440 yards of total offense and trailing two touchdowns late into the 4th quarter, the Panthers had a chance to win or force overtime at the end of Sunday’s game. This might not have been the case if there weren’t a number of drops. Tight end Ian Thomas failed to hold onto a touchdown pass that hit him squarely in the chest; a pass to CJ Anderson bounced off him and into the hands of Falcons safety Ricardo Allen; and two drops by Devin Funchess, Carolina’s WR1, are trends that the Panthers will need to clean up. Can’t complain about Cam’s completion percentage and accuracy when guys are dropping passes.
Carolina’s stout and stingy defense has been a staple of the franchise, so when they give up a 100 yard game to a rusher for the first time in 21 contests and allow Matt Ryan to go un-checked, delivering the ball without any pressure and even scoring two touchdowns on the ground for the first time in his professional career, that’s a problem. With offensive line injury woes, the last thing Panthers fans expected to see was the defensive line struggling. Eric Washington’s crew will have to toughen up and tighten up as the quarterbacks they’ll face heading into the season won’t get any easier. The success of this team, as with playoff bound Panthers teams in the past, will be heavily rooted in the success of their defense and efforts like Sunday’s just won’t cut it if Carolina plans on playing beyond the New Year.