Two weeks of Carolina Panthers football has shown two separately disappointing offensive performances and two promising defensive efforts. Frank Reich’s 2023 Panthers squad can generously be described as starting slow. Whether they show improvement or not, they are currently miles away from being able to compete.
Today we’re going to highlight a couple of individual performances, quickly call a duck a duck, and then point our eyes firmly forwards.
What I liked
Frankie Luvu - Extremely Optimistic
We might as well rename this as the Monday [time] Luvu Report. He’s one of the few, consistent bright spots on this team. Brian Burns isn’t far behind, but the Saints spent a lot of attention making sure that he and Derrick Brown had little to say tonight. Luvu had the opportunity to step up and he did so once again.
Nine tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, and two more quarterback hits is a stat line to be proud of.
Kamu Grugier-Hill - Somewhat Optimistic
Grugier-Hill was a training camp darling who never figured to see much playing time behind Shaq Thompson. Now that Thompson is likely out for a long time, we’ll get to see what Grugier-Hill can do with a bigger role.
Tonight already showed a couple of bright spots. He finished with six tackles, one for loss, and one sack. Here’s to hoping he can build on that. Here’s to hoping Shaq’s OK.
Eddie Piñeiro - Extremely Optimistic
Piñeiro was three for three on field goals, including two from 50+, and is now in possessoin of a 23 consecutive made field goals streak, and the highest scoring Panthers on the season by a mile.
The Panthers have a reliable kicker again. That’s not nothing.
What I didn’t like
The offense - Not even mad, just disappointed
Young deserves to shoulder his share of the blame for last night’s performance, but he is far from alone. The offense displayed every kind of incompetence. From whiffed blocks, to missed passes, to drops, and penalties. That leads us to three quick, mildly related notes on the offense:
- The future is still bright for Young. The sky isn’t falling. I’m not even saying he quacked under pressure. He just threw a couple ducks last night.
- I’ll never understand how the Panthers are on their third head coach since 2011 and nth head coach/offensive coordinator/quarterback combination since then and not one of them has been able to consistently get a play call dialed in without racing the end of the play clock. Are they using cups on strings to call these in?
- The Panthers had three drives of more than six plays. Two ended in field goals and the lone touchdown came in garbage time. There were six drives of four plays or fewer. One of those was a field goal, one a fumble lost, and four were punts. No part of this paragraph describes football that was enjoyable to watch.
The Saints and Falcons might have two of the better defenses in the NFL. Or they just played the Panthers in recent weeks and look the better for it. The offense needs to look better on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks if this team is going to earn any respect this season. If they don’t then we’ll know we are in for a long season.