4 keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers at the Chargers in Week 3

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Teddy Bridgewater /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) Robby Anderson /

Get the passing game going early and often

The Carolina Panthers lost the services of star running back Christian McCaffrey, who will miss his first NFL game since entering the league in 2017 with a high ankle sprain that is expected to sideline the All-Pro for anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

This is an absolute disaster for the Panthers, to put it mildly. Not having their face of the franchise is a substantial blow and although Mike Davis did show some promise late on at the Bucs, there are few running backs in the NFL who could replicate what McCaffrey can produce consistently.

McCaffrey’s unavailability heaps more pressure on Carolina’s talented wide receiver group. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady needs to get them involved early and often to keep the Chargers’ defense honest when they would normally be stacking the box to limit the production of No. 22.

D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson will be the focal point, and with good reason. Both have been tremendous during the early stages of the campaign and they could propel themselves to among the NFL’s best tandems if each player continues to produce going forward.

Brady needs to get Curtis Samuel more involved, and Seth Roberts’ lack of involvement is also something that might need to change in McCaffrey’s absence.

How the former LSU passing guru has used Ian Thomas and Chris Manhertz has been head-scratching, especially when one considers just how much success Brady attained with his tight ends during the Tigers’ historic run to a National Championship in 2019.

Finding the right balance is always key in terms of distribution. But with McCaffrey no longer able to be the focal point, it is essential that these weapons in the passing game are given the opportunity to make an impact.