The conditions were right for the Carolina Panthers to move to .500 on the season. They were facing an Arizona Cardinals team that was struggling against defending the pass and struggling to pass the ball, and they fumbled it away with a 26-16 loss. Cascades of boos pierced the Uptown skyline and descended onto the turf of Bank of America Stadium as the Panthers drop to 1-3 on the season. Here are more observations from Week 4.
Defense Understood the Assignment
The Panthers’ defense kept the same momentum that they had from Week 3 to the first half of this game. The front seven was aggressive with rushes to contain Kyler Murray into a pressured pocket. That same pressure was the catalyst to the Frankie Luvu 33-yard interception return for a touchdown. Even when Jeremy Chinn went down with a hamstring industry, the defense was still getting stops until they ran out of gas from being on the field longer than they had to be with the Cardinals controlling the time of possession at 38 minutes to the Panthers’ 21.
Offense Needs Tutoring
Pop Quiz Ya’ll. It is 4th and short and you are going for it because, why not? What’s the play here? A QB Sneak? Handoff to RB1 or get a big, physical FB in there for short yardage situations? Ben McAdoo chose a handoff to Christian McCaffrey because, according to Rhule, it’s a staple and a constant.
“We have Christian McCaffrey and a big offensive line, ” he said. “We’ve converted that before.”
Before isn’t the present. Before is just that and it doesn’t equate to present or future success. The Panthers have a 240lb running back in D’Onta Foreman they could have used, but they didn’t because CMC moved the chains before.
In the passing game Baker Mayfield and DJ Moore had slivers of a connection, but it wasn’t really leaned into. Moore was open for the majority of the game and either he was over thrown, under thrown or ignored. The progressions that should’ve been made wtih Mayfield testing that vulnerable pass defense with a variety of routes for Moore and Robbie Anderson, didn’t happen and the result of that was an ‘L’.
Mayfield Criticizing Fans
In his postgame interview, Mayfield was asked about the fans booing and here was his response.
“I don’t really care about the fact that our fans are booing, or what’s going on. We are going to figure it out, and when we win it’ll still be just us in the locker room and that’s really all I care about.”
Here’s the thing: Some of these fans may not rock a watch regularly but when it comes to the Panthers, they know what time it is. These fans are not booing for no reason. The reality is, they were given a reason to boo this team due to their performance offensively. Here were Mayfield’s numbers Sunday: 22/36 for 197 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions, and a rating of 61.9 against a pass defense that’s ranked 32nd in the league. What were the fans supposed to do? Cheer?
The offense’s third and fourth down efficiency was 20 and 33 percent respectively. In those percentages were fumbles, overthrown passes, under thrown passes, batted down passes, missed assignments and interceptions. The boos were warranted. Don’t like it? Adjust and improve. If there are no improvements, empathize.
The Panthers are now 1-26 under Rhule when opponents score 17 points or more. Next up will be the San Francisco 49ers at 4:05 next week at Bank of America Stadium. Do with that information what you will.