The Panthers played horribly on Thursday Night Football and lost a game to the Falcons that most of us would rather soon forget. Normally I would use this column to point out all the bad stuff that happened, but today I’m going to do something different. I’m going to talk about the positives (yes, there were positives) instead.
I know I could rant and rave about how terrible the offensive line was, or how the zone defense was as effective as a band aid on a shark bite, or how the fourth down play-calling was terrible, but I’m not going to do that because I’d rather use this column to spread some positivity. Let’s face it: we never expected this team to be very good anyway.
With that being said, here are four winners from last night’s game.
The reigning NFL Rookie of the Month got his first chance to play in front of a prime time audience yesterday and he did not disappoint. He led the team in tackles (10 total, six solo) and racked up one pass defensed and one quarterback hit. Oh, and he also had a huge 28-yard run on a fake punt in the third quarter that allowed the Panthers to kick a field goal rather than punt. It ended up being the last points they scored, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Jeremy Chinn is awesome and the Panthers are lucky to have him.
Samuel only had 54 total yards, but he scored both of the Panthers’ touchdowns (one rushing, one receiving), caught four-of-five targets and picked up two first downs. All in all he had a pretty solid night and it’s a disappointment that his contributions were wasted in a loss on national television.
The Panthers have a decision to make on Samuel this offseason, and if it were up to me they’d just pay him and keep him on the roster. He’s a dynamic weapon who can be used as a running back or a receiver, and you can’t have too many of those in your offense. Hopefully we’ll see him in Carolina for the next few years, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see someone else offer him a large sum of money that the Panthers can’t (or won’t) match.
Thomas hasn’t seen much action this year, but last night he made the most of his opportunities by catching all three passes that were thrown his way. He finished with three catches for 28 receiving yards. His longest reception was 21 of those 28 yards, but the other two of his receptions were for first downs so they were also key plays. I hope this performance gives the coaching staff more confidence in him, because the Panthers really do need to utilize the tight end more often. Hopefully this is the beginning of that mindset.
Obada only logged one tackle last night, but he also had a sack, a tackle for loss and two quarterback hits. He was one of the only pass rushers who could generate any consistent pressure on Matt Ryan last night, and I felt that it was worth pointing out.
This loss sucks and it’s going to suck for the next few days, but it’s one of those times where we just have to shrug it off because dwelling on it doesn’t really do anyone any good. The Panthers-Falcons rivalry is always a train wreck (which is what makes it so great), and last night was our turn to look like a bunch of doofuses. It happens sometimes, so it’s best to just try to find the positives from it and focus on those. Like I said earlier: we’re not supposed to be good this year anyway.
Who stood out to you as a winner last night, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts with us!