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Carolina 21 Washington 29: Missed opportunities doom the Panthers again in home loss

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The Panthers started hot, but quickly fell apart in their Week 13 home loss to Washington.

The Carolina Panthers started yesterday’s game against Washington like they were clearly the better team after jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but then the wheels completely fell off the wagon and the Panthers were left stunned by yet another disappointing loss at home. Washington rocked the Panthers with 29 unanswered points and held off a late comeback attempt to hang on to a 29-21 win and all but killed the Panthers’ playoff hopes.

(To make something clear: The Panthers aren’t mathematically eliminated, but we all know it’s over. I’m not suggesting we still have a chance.)

There was a little bit of good and a lot of bad from yesterday’s game, so let’s dive into this week’s stock report.

Stock up

DJ Moore: Moore had another solid game despite pitiful quarterback play after the first quarter (more on this later, obviously) and is closing in on 1,000 receiving yards on the season. He caught six balls for 75 yards and a touchdown against Washington and once again looked like a legitimate NFL wide receiver, which is always nice.

Mario Addison: Addison unleashed the fury yesterday with seven tackles (four solo), 1.5 sacks and three quarterback hits. Addison now has 9.5 sacks on the season and is tied with several players at No. 9 on the league leaderboard. Hopefully he can pick up a few more over the next few weeks and move up in the rankings so we have something positive to talk about when this season is mercifully over.

Eric Reid: Reid led the team in tackles and picked up a sack, a tackle-for-loss and a quarterback hit. You can’t ask for much more than that from your strong safety.

Stock down

Kyle Allen: Hoo boy... where do we begin? I guess it makes sense to get the good stuff out of the way first — Allen was excellent in the first quarter. He led the team down the field for two straight touchdown drives to build a 14-0 lead and made everyone believe that this was going to be one of those ‘over by halftime’ type of games. That was not the case. I don’t know what happened after the second touchdown — whether it was regression to the mean, the defense figuring him out, he’s just flat out bad, or what — but the wheels fell completely off the wagon and Allen looked like he had no idea what he was doing for the rest of the game. He ended his day 27 of 46 for 278 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. That’s not terrible, but against a 2-9 team you’d hope to see a better performance.

I can’t pin everything on Allen because the offensive line didn’t do him many favors (he was sacked seven times), but Cam Newton has done more with less. Allen missed several clear opportunities to take what the defense was giving him because he was too busy running for his life when he didn’t need to, and he missed a few open receivers with bad throws and it was just so frustrating to watch. I also have to point out how hilariously awful the last play on offense was when he completely ignored a wide open receiver in the back of the end zone and instead chose to scramble around and fumble the ball away to Washington. It takes a special kind of talent to do something like that, so kudos to Allen for at least making us laugh at how inept we were at the end of the game.

I think we’ve seen enough of Allen to know that he’s not the future franchise quarterback — despite a subset of fans’ adamant refusal to acknowledge this — and I think it’s time for the Panthers to see what they have in Will Grier. I don’t think either of them are ‘the future’, but the Panthers need to start assessing what they have and what they don’t have before the 2020 NFL Draft, especially now that it’s 99.9 percent likely they’re eliminated from the playoffs.

Christian McCaffrey: It’s not really McCaffrey’s fault when he’s contained because defenses have figured out that all they have to do is key on him to stop the Panthers’ offense from moving the ball, but McCaffrey didn’t have his best game against Washington. He ended up with 102 yards from scrimmage (44 rushing, 58 receiving), but he didn’t find the end zone despite having a few shots at it late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line. CMC is great, don’t get me wrong, but he’s had better days than yesterday. Hopefully he gets back on track next week against the Atlanta Falcons.

Luke Kuechly: I don’t think the 3-4 defense is a good fit for Kuechly’s skillset because he’s looked completely lost this season (compared to his normal dominant self). He looked like an average linebacker yesterday, which for Kuechly is like saying he’s garbage. That’s no good.

Norv Turner: Norval cannot call a goal line play to save his life, apparently. The Panthers had four chances to score a touchdown from the 1-yard line (and then attempt a 2-point conversion to tie the game) in the fourth quarter, and Norv called two straight runs up the gut with McCaffrey that lost yards. Yesterday was the fourth time the Panthers have been inside their opponents’ 5-yard line with a chance to tie or win the game at the end, and they are 0-4 in those games. When you have players like Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel it’s inexcusable to fail that many times in short yardage situations.

Ron Rivera: The Carolina Panthers are not going to be a consistently successful team under Rivera’s leadership, and it’s time to make a change. I’m sure that David Tepper doesn’t want to fire anyone until the season is over, and that’s fine, but it’s time to part ways with Rivera and bring in some fresh ideas. Rivera told the media that he’s not worried about his future, but he probably should be because I don’t think there’s any way he saves his job at this point, even if the Panthers do their patented ‘win out in December to still miss the playoffs and screw up their draft position’ routine they seem to do every other year.

Honorable mentions

Curtis Samuel: Samuel made a great catch for a touchdown in the first quarter, but also missed a pass that hit him right in the hands later in the game, and honestly I didn’t know whether or not to count his stock as up or down so I just decided to mention him here because I felt like it was at least worth pointing out. Y’all can argue whether his stock should be up or down in the comments.

Joey Slye: Slye exorcised his extra point demons yesterday and went 3-for-3, which is a positive sign. He didn’t get any other opportunities, but I was happy to see that he didn’t miss any extra points. I know that I shouldn’t have to be happy about that, but it is what it is.

Michael Palardy: I’m surprised Palardy’s leg didn’t fall off after he punted eight times for 338 yards, but I felt the need to give him some props for a good day’s work.

Who stood out to you yesterday, Panthers fans? Whose stock is up and whose stock is down for you? Share your thoughts in the comments.