Carolina Panthers: Case for winning record better than playoff hopes
Will the Carolina Panthers record first ever back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history?
A three game Carolina Panthers losing streak, consisting of a prime time kicking by the Pittsburgh Steelers, a blah, hugely disappointing 20-19 loss to a Detroit Lions team that ended on a failed two-point conversion, and a tough 30-27 home loss to Seattle have rightfully caused all sorts of worry about a weak pass rush and how the 2018 season will work out regarding playoff hopes.
When star running back Christian Mccaffrey scores with both a run and pass, knocking out BIG plays while going 17/125 rushing and catching 11 passes for 112 more yards, and Cam Newton hits 25/30 passes (256 yds, 2 TDs/1 INT) plus eight rushes for 63 yards, it doesn’t feel like the offense is failing to hold up its end of things. Newton, with the benefit of check down efficiency and McCaffrey, is at 69.6-percent, 103.74 QB rating, and it’s always a problem when one side is seen as playing ineffectively. Okay, kicker Graham Gano has been far from his “Mr. Consistency” job demands, missing three PATs this year and clutch field goals in the last two weeks that contributed to Panthers losses.
Straight-up, seeing every competent QB the Panthers have faced (except Joe Flacco) piling up yardage and/or accuracy without getting intimidated by the rush, well, Panthers blitz stats were tarnished early.
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Shaq Thompson was a beast in Spartanburg and preseason, but less effective in rushing for sacks or coverage since Thomas Davis returned from suspension. There’s a question of Dontari Poe‘s effectiveness as a space eater– backs keep getting yards after contact. Tampa Bay Buccaneers are up next, defense has generally given Jameis Winston lots of trouble, with multiple INT games, although he also gets a volume of yardage with top receivers. Which goes back to pass rush, whether anything can be tweaked or schemed into turnovers and not having Russell Wilson take his time to drop dimes to receivers after breaking containment, or letting Winston throw 45 times.
Giving any sort of credit for holding the Seahawks #1 rated rushing attack to half its usual average (75 v. 154.3 yards) might be worth mentioning, if it wasn’t for fact that Wilson was 22/31 for 339 yards passing and 2 TDs, which doesn’t sound like any pass rush and secondary coverage is complementing each other in ways Defensive Coordinator Eric Washington might be expecting. Corral any three Panthers fans and their consensus will be the pass rush is the part of unit that is under-performing to the greatest extent.
Consider much improved Cleveland with Baker Mayfield strutting his stuff, and two late games against Drew Brees‘ Saints. Alvin Kamara is someone who gets extra yards in receiving like McCaffrey, and there’s no reason not to think their Superdome constitutes a real home field advantage. They’re a hot team, with a *super* quarterback who might just own the Panthers again this year, so where do the victories come from? Absolutely, they have to start in Tampa.
Fingers crossed about Donte Jackson, his being fit to play would help. James Bradberry stoned Mike Evans the first time they played this season. All things considered, Panthers could really benefit from another thirty point outing by the offense.