The Panthers improved their 2020 record to 5-10 with a 20-13 win over the Football Team yesterday, and there were a few players who stood out above the rest for the Panthers. Since the Panthers won, I won’t go into extreme detail about any bad performances, so this week’s column will not mention any ‘losers’ (and to be honest, there weren’t that many of them to mention anyway).
With that being said, here are four winners from yesterday’s 20-13 win.
Samuel had a career night with 158 yards from scrimmage (52 rushing, 106 receiving) with two plays over 40 yards, including a huge 45-yard scamper in the second quarter that set up the Panthers’ second touchdown of the game. He didn’t find the end zone yesterday, but he will find a big payday when free agency begins in the offseason. I hope the Panthers are able to find a way to keep him on the roster, but I’m afraid he’s played his way out of Carolina and onto a team with more cap space who can give him the contract he deserves.
Thompson led the team in tackles with nine (six solo) and added a tackle for loss and a quarterback hit to his tally as well. He hasn’t had the year everyone hoped he would have replacing Luke Kuechly as the leader of the defense, but he has turned it on over the last few weeks and played exceptionally well yesterday. I hope to see more performances from him like that in the future.
Boston played well yesterday with seven tackles (six solo), a tackle for loss, a pass defensed and an interception. I know he gets a lot of hate for not being the best free safety in NFL history, but he has played well this year and has been a solid veteran piece on this young, growing defense.
The ‘young pups’ on defense
The Panthers defense has a chance to be special for a long time if the younger guys continue to develop the way they have over the last few weeks. Jeremy Chinn is in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year (though he will probably lose to Chase Young), Yetur Gross-Matos is improving with every passing week, Brian Burns is a monster waiting to burst onto the national scene, Marquis Haynes is turning into a legit force on the edge, Derrick Brown has the potential to be an elite run stuffing defensive tackle, Donte Jackson is starting to look like a potential No. 1 cornerback, and Jermaine Carter, Rasul Douglas and Efe Obada are starting to show some promise.
I was pleased with the effort I saw from these guys yesterday, and while the competition wasn’t the best they’ll face, they can’t control who they line up against, and they looked good against Washington even if it was expected of them.
Regardless of what happens next week and where the Panthers end up in the 2021 draft order, this team has a lot of potential if they can continue to develop, and I think that’s all we really wanted to see this year no matter what the final record ended up being. We just wanted, no, needed to see some potential, and I think that’s one thing we can all agree on: this young defense has plenty of potential, and if they can continue to build on performances like yesterday we’ll really enjoy watching them play for many years to come.
Who stood out to you yesterday, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts with us!