There’s not a lot to complain about from this win and some folks will think I’m being a bit nit-picky in the stock down part of this column, but that’s kinda the point. It may not seem like it but I was very pleased with what I saw from the Panthers yesterday — they played ugly but they played well enough to win, and sometimes that’s what you have to do. It’s what good teams do, and the Panthers were a good team yesterday even though they were missing several key contributors. You really can’t ask for much more than that.
Anyway, on to the stock report.
Joey Slye: I’m gonna go ahead and say it — the Panthers should part ways with Graham Gano. Slye was excellent yesterday (3-of-3, including a 55-yarder) and has made 7-of-8 kicks this year (including 3-of-4 from 50+ yards) and all eight of his extra point attempts. He’s young, cheap and good. That’s exactly what you want from a kicker, and the Panthers should make the smart financial decision and keep Slye around beyond 2019.
Michael Palardy: Palardy punted four times yesterday, and three of them pinned the Texans inside the 20 yard line. That’s good work, and it’s something that helped the defense tighten down then they needed to.
Literally everyone who played defense yesterday: There are too many players to point out on defense, so I’m just going to give props to the whole unit. The defense won the game for the Panthers yesterday. The offense struggled at times (mostly thanks to three sack-fumbles), but the defense was there to pick up the slack and didn’t allow those mistakes to turn into too many points.
Deshaun Watson was sacked six times. Ross Cockrell foiled a trick play by picking off a pass thrown by DeAndre Hopkins. Vernon Butler made a key play by forcing a fumble in the fourth quarter that was recovered by Eric Reid. Shaq Thompson was a monster with 12 tackles and a sack. Luke Kuechly was Luke Kuechly. James Bradberry locked down DeAndre Hopkins and kept him out of the end zone. Mario Addison was Deshaun Watson’s worst nightmare. Bruce Irvin looked great in his season debut.
I just can’t say enough about the defense’s effort yesterday, and I haven’t even mentioned that Donte Jackson and Kawann Short didn’t play. Just imagine how much better they can be with those two starters in the lineup. This defense has a chance to be special, y’all, and we should be excited about that.
Kyle Allen: Allen wasn’t bad yesterday (he was 24-of-34 for 232 yards), but he wasn’t as good as he was last week against the Arizona Cardinals. That was to be expected, so I’m not going to blast him too much for struggling a bit against a tougher defense. However, I am going to point out that he needs to work on his ball security, because three lost fumbles is unacceptable. Regardless of whose fault it was, Allen has to be better at protecting the ball in those situations. Even if he has to throw it away and commit intentional grounding, it’s better to do that than fumble and give up possession.
Ray-Ray McCloud: Our entire punt return team could use some work, but I was disappointed in McCloud yesterday. Especially when he ‘lost the ball in the rafters’ and let a punt sail over his head. We won so it’s not a huge deal, but he has to be better than that. On the bright side, however, at least he didn’t touch it and let the Texans recover it on our 15 yard line.
Norv Turner: The Panthers need to use their backup running backs more often. Christian McCaffrey had 37 touches yesterday (27 carries, 10 receptions) and that’s not good. I know he’s the best player on offense right now, but they’re going to overwork him if they keep up this pace. I know you need to put the ball into your best players’ hands to find success, but it wouldn’t hurt the offense to give Jordan Scarlett and/or Reggie Bonnafon a few carries to lighten McCaffrey’s load a bit.
What about you, Panthers fans? Whose stock is up or down for you? Share your thoughts with us!