Andy Dalton completed 34 passes of his career-high 58 attempts for 361 yards and two touchdowns. Adam Thielen caught 11 passes for 145 yards and a touchdown. The offense looked competent and competitive in Week 3, but it didn’t matter. The Carolina Panthers fell to the Seattle Seahawks 27-37 to go 0-3 on the year. Here are three takeaways from the disappointing loss:
False Start Offense
Carolina racked up 13 penalties for 82 yards and eight of those 13 penalties were false starts.
The biggest offender was offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu. The second-year left tackle from NC State had four penalties. If it wasn’t Ekwonu, it was Taylor Moton getting flagged. The Seahawks’ 12th man had a lot to do with it. The two tackles were not positioned next to Dalton, so they couldn’t hear his cadences.
Regardless of the reason those penalties were inexcusable, especially when the team was prepping all week for the noise.
“We knew it was coming,” Panthers head coach Frank Reich said postgame. “We practiced all week with noise. I mean Wednesday it was so loud out there, you couldn’t even think.”
Ekwonu was frustrated with his penalties and made no excuses.
“Jumping offsides four times in a game is ridiculous.”
In addition to all the false starts, Dalton had a shifting penalty on him while calling an audible.
Juice In The Passing Game?
The Panthers’ receivers’ lack of separation has been well-documented at this point. While they still struggle with that issue, it seemed as if for one moment, there was a little bit of promise.
In the second quarter, Daulton found DJ Chark for a 47-yard touchdown.
Chark slashed to the flat and was wide open for the touchdown. While the other receivers seemed to stop their routes short, Clark continued to run his and was rewarded.
Despite not having as much speed as Clark, Theilen led the team in receiving yards with 147, because of his ability to catch the ball in traffic.
Another positive for the receivers is the awareness to target the mismatches. As I mentioned in my keys to this game, the Panthers receivers should target the vulnerable Seahawks secondary early and often – rookie cornerback Davon Witherspoon specifically.
What the Panthers lack in speed they can compensate for with awareness and toughness.
Unraveling In The Second Half
For two and a half quarters, the Panthers’ defense was solid. They held the Seahawks’ offense to field goals and held up well until – the third quarter. One reason for the second-half surge was that Seattle capitalized on spacing. The middle of the field was open and the Seahawks’ offense used that to string together scoring drives. In the 3-4 scheme, there is flexibility to disguise an extra rusher. Shaq Thompson was that guy until his season-ending injury. Moving forward, look for Frankie Luvu to be that extra rusher and also to roam the field.