The Carolina Panthers can’t seem to get out of their own way. They once again snatched defeat out of victory’s jaws, as the Washington Football Team squeaked by the Panthers 27-21. Here’s some observations from the Week 11 loss
Defense Failed The Assignment
When it comes to the dynamics of the Panthers, it is usually the defense carrying the offense. It is usually, the defense making plays to give the offense opportunities to capitalize and score. The defense struggled against Washington and it was noticeable on the third down conversions, where Carolina’s defense could not get a stop.
Ironiclly, lack of third down stops wasn’t the worst thing about the defense’s performance in this game. The penalites made matters worse. Carolina’s pattern of offsides and false start penalities netted them a 65 yard loss. That was 65 yards that the offense could have used in a few situations during the game, which brings me to….
4th and 3
Late in the fourth quarter, the Panthers had a 4th and 3 situation, where it appeared they were going to punt. Head Coach Matt Rhule then calls a time out and elects to go for it on fourth down. Cam Newton throws it to Christian McCaffrey, who comes up just short of the first down. Here’s the thing, Newton could have run an option and kept it himself, or handed it off to McCaffrey and the results could have been different. Whatever the choice, the Panthers should have predetermined whether they would go for it on 4th down ahead of time. There shouldn’t be any second guesses like that with the game on the line. Punting wouldn’t have been that bad since it would give the defense the opportunity to not only get a stop, but get favorable field goal position to tie the game – at worst. Personally, I would have gone for it with no questions asked. Hesitating is confusion, and after 27 games Rhule shouldn’t be confused.
Newton’s Solid Start
In his first start in Carolina since September of 2019, Cam Newton looked good. He finished the game completing 21 of 27 attempts for 189 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 46 yards and a touchdown. The numbers were impressive, considering Newton has been out for half of the year. However, that wasn’t the most impressive thing about his start. What stood out to me was the fact that Newton still had touch and zip in his throws. Expect Newton’ s numbers to increase as he gets better acclimated with this offense.