Week 6 loss was a wake-up call the Carolina Panthers needed

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /

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A disappointing Week 6 loss to the Chicago Bears could be the wake-up call that the Carolina Panthers needed following a three-game winning run.

All the hype surrounding the Carolina Panthers in recent weeks came crashing back down to earth in Week 6. They were unable to replicate their impressive displays of late that eventually saw them beaten 23-16 by the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium.

This was the toughest defense the Carolina Panthers have come up against this season. The Bears are relentless in pursuit of the quarterback and their physical tackling was another big deciding factor in the overall outcome.

The Panthers got off to a slow start, which was not in keeping with what we have seen from Matt Rhule’s men during their impressive turnaround in fortunes. This enabled Chicago to get out in front and this is all their defensive front needs to release the shackles and really get after it, which caused complications for Teddy Bridgewater on a disappointing afternoon for the signal-caller.

If some of Carolina’s young and improving roster were getting ahead of themselves, then this was the wake-up call they probably needed.

The Carolina Panthers are still ahead of schedule.

Considering what was expected of the Panthers before competitive action got underway, they appear way ahead of schedule. However, their two tests against legitimate playoff contenders this season haven’t gone according to plan and there is much work to be done if Carolina wants to come into this particular bracket sooner rather than later.

Everything that could go wrong did for the Panthers.

They were without the services of Kawann Short, Yetur Gross-Matos, and Curtis Samuel, in addition to Donte Jackson clearly being hampered by his injury problem. The likes of running back Mike Davis and safety Juston Burris also went out at certain stages, which only complicated matters further for a roster that looks relatively devoid of any quality depth.

Carolina’s efficiency on third down was a disappointment, with the team enduring a 3-13 success rate in this critical statistic. They were also lacking in discipline for the first time this season, giving up eight penalties for a total of 68 yards.

Bridgewater and company won’t be coming up against a defense like this every week. But the challenge awaiting them at the New Orleans Saints next weekend is a substantial one.

This is followed by a home tie against the Atlanta Falcons, who are coming off their first win of the campaign after parting ways with Dan Quinn, before the daunting prospect of a clash with the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium awaits them.

If the Panthers don’t come out of this stretch with a losing record overall, it is going to be a monumental achievement. But if things continue to trend in the wrong direction, it might be worth remembering that this is a team that is learning and developing as they go in their pursuit to kick on following another critical offseason period in 2021.

Perhaps they are better assuming the role of an underdog at this stage. The longer Carolina can sneak under the radar, the better it will be. But now there is some solid film for teams to go off, it is only going to get more difficult from here on in.

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This was a gut check for the Panthers. How they bounce back will tell us plenty about what we can expect from them during the remainder of the campaign.