The Panthers won their first game of the season, the first game of the Frank Reich era, and the first game with Thomas Brown as the offensive coordinator. While it wasn’t pretty, we saw some real strides from key offensive and defensive contributors, which collectively helped them beat a Texans team that is very much on the rise and headed in the right direction. Let’s dive in.
Bryce Young-Extremely Optimistic
Despite getting sacked six times (some of which were his own fault), Bryce Young managed to get his first victory. And it happened to be over fellow top draft pick CJ Stroud, meaning we can end any and all debate about who the better QB prospect was... right?
Young hit on several nice throws. He’s still not pushing the ball down the field as well as you might like, but this offense isn’t built for that and the gameplan doesn’t appear to be pushing for that either. Young still looks poised and I hope he can take this win as a jumping off point, because in the good moments, he looked REALLY good. We just need to see more of it. But overall, solid week for Young. He hit on a few downfield throws this week and progress is progress!
Frankie Luvu + Brian Burns-Extremely Optimistic
I called on Brian Burns to be a more impactful defender in my defensive preview, and boy did he deliver this week. On multiple occasions he was meeting running backs in the backfield at the hand off area, and created some pressures when needed. He statistically counted for only 1 tackle and 1 sack, but overall he had quite a performance. I’d like to see him actually make the tackle instead of disrupt the play, but we’re optimists today! Frankie Luvu, on the other hand, statistically lit it up. 12 tackles, a sack, and 2 pass deflections as Luvu once again showed why he’s an underrated defender in this league. Luvu and Burns deserve to get paid, just remains to be seen what team does and how much.
Eddy Pineiro-Extremely Optimistic
The Panthers don’t win this game without Eddy. He missed his first PAT attempt, but then came back and nailed 3 field goals that all were significant to the game script, including the game winner as time expired. The Panthers have been through a roller coaster at kicker, but Pineiro seems to have settled that discussion for now. Between an outstanding 2022 and a performance like this, the dude shouldn’t be the reason the Panthers lose football games.
Adam Thielen + Jonathan Mingo-Optimistic
Adam Thielen continues to be a treasure, both for Bryce Young and PPR fantasy owners. The dude is even more consistent than I think any of the CSR staff reasonably expected as a 33 year old WR signed in free agency. Another 10+ target game with 72 yards and a couple of really big catches to keep the offense going. Jonathan Mingo also joined him with 4 catches for 62 yards, including a big time 40 yard catch and run to set the Panthers into scoring position. This is still a skill group that needs some seasoning, but I’ll recognize solid performances when I see them. I’m hopeful that as the offense finds its groove, Mingo will find his as well alongside Young.
I’m not going to do the pessimistic section this week, because honestly its been weeks of pessimism and anger with this team. I’m just happy to be typing about a win, even if its been 8 weeks since we could be positive. This season is all about Bryce Young’s development, this coaching staff finding their stride, and surviving that injury bug on defense. So all I have is positivity on the agenda this week, Panthers fans!