Carolina Panthers: training camp red zone trouble

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As a fan, what do you enjoy more as a means of the Carolina Panthers scoring a touchdown?  The big play downfield for a long touchdown, or hard work pushing the ball in once inside the 20-yard line, better known as a red zone touchdown?

Both can be exciting – a long touchdown downfield gets the crowd pumped up because it is something not expected, while a red zone touchdown keeps the crowd and defense guessing as to what play will be called.  Will it be a run, a pass, a play action?  Fans do not care the way the Panthers score inside the red zone, all the fans care about is the score.

November 10, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) looks on as the Carolina Panthers offense approaches the line of scrimmage during the second quarter at Candlestick Park. The Panthers defeated the 49ers 10-9. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Well, 2014 was a rough season statistically for the Panthers in the red zone.  The Panthers ranked 26th in the league, scoring a touchdown on only 48.1% of the time inside the 20-yard line.  Do you think the Panthers realize this number needs to be improved?  Of course they do, just ask Greg Olsen

“It’s pretty clear to everybody, we don’t pretend that we were very efficient in the red zone last year.  We settled for way too many field goals.  We’ve got to score more touchdowns.”

Although this number still translated to the NFC South title, to go for a third NFC South title, the numbers have to improve, which is why we have training camp and practice, right?

But, if Wednesday’s training camp practice is any indication as to what the red zone offense will look like in the 2015 season, be prepared fans to pray big plays downfield are the way the Panthers score most of the time.

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You see, the Panthers’ starters, yes the first-team offense, had no success and were dominated by the first-team defense in red zone drills Wednesday, August 5th.

A few factors could be in play though, which we might be able to grant some relief to the offense.  The Panthers’ defense was ranked in the top 10 in the league each of the past three seasons, one of three defenses to accomplish this feet, and this was the first day of training camp where the red zone drills were instituted.

Next: Are red zone failures a fact or excuse?