As much as people want instant results, progression and development are not linear. It’s more complex and it takes longer than hoped or expected.
This is where the Carolina Panthers are at after Week 1’s 24-10 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. Rookie quarterback Bryce Young looked like a rookie. The offense under Frank Reich looks like a new offense that’s trying to find their identity.
Here are more observations from Week 1:
Shrinking The Field
When looking at Bryce Young’s chart, what stands out to you?
While Young completed 53 percent of his passes, they only produced 146 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Why? Because the Falcons’ defense shrunk the field. Carolina’s receivers couldn’t gain separation, because Atlanta’s secondary extended their coverage.
Notice how the Falcons’ linemen are the only ones bringing pressure up front. The linebackers are patrolling the middle while the secondary is swarming deep. The Falcons conceded the short passes, willing to risk giving up yards after catch instead of passes downfield.
Carolina turned the Mercedes Benz Stadium into a bakery with a retractable roof. They committed three turnovers; the Falcons didn’t commit any. While the defense kept the Panthers competitive, the turnovers negated any hopes to win. Three consecutive turnovers led to the Falcons’ 17 points and ultimately put the game away. Two of those turnovers were Young’s interception which leads to the point of…
Making The Same Mistake Twice
On two possessions, Young tried to throw across the middle only for Falcons’ safety Jessie Bates III to pick off the passes identically in the same way. To Young’s credit, he identified his mistakes.
“The safety came down. I obviously have to see in front of that and see his depth, especially when the turnovers happened, “ Young explained after the game. “They led to points, and that’s unacceptable.”
Young probably saw an opening across the middle for a split second and thought Bates was going sit in coverage. He didn’t and as a result, got two interceptions.
From Bates perspective, the Falcons’ defense caught on quickly to the Panthers’ offensive scheme.
“I feel like I had a good feel for what they wanted to do today,” Bates said. “That they had to get him comfortable. They wanted to get the ball out quick, kick the ball inside the hashes. So I kinda took advantage of that.”
After the game, the reactions were endless. Some of those reactions were legitimate concerns, like the inability of the wide receivers to gain separation and dropped passes. The struggles of the secondary are also valid. All of that is understood
However, declaring a season to be a losing one after one game is extreme. Remember, this iteration of the Panthers is ‘new’. You have a rookie quarterback in Young who, at times, will look like the rookie that he is. Regardless of how polished and poised he is, Young will continue to make mistakes all season. The important thing is that he learns game to game. He will learn new lessons in a 17-week span.
Plus, there is a new coaching staff on both sides of the ball. The defense is once again stable. However, the offense is still trying to find an identity. It might take a few games for it to take form, but it’s part of the game-collectively and for the Panthers specifically.