It’s a new season, but the same problems were once again evident for the Carolina Panthers during a disappointing Week 1 loss.
Fans were hoping to see major improvements from the Carolina Panthers in 2022. A solid offseason of recruitment coupled with a structured preparation in training camp left many predicting Matt Rhule‘s men to be a dark horse wildcard challenger this season, but all this optimism disintegrated in Week 1 after a home humbling against the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland still possesses a strong roster despite the absence of some key men including Deshaun Watson and Jack Conklin. With that said, this represented a winnable game for the Panthers, who never got going until it was almost too late.
It was not the defeat that irked the team’s long-suffering fanbase.
It was the same problems that blighted their 2021 season coming to light once again.
Carolina Panthers have multiple problems to figure out in Week 2
Phil Snow might not have thought it before the contest, but Carolina’s run defense was nothing short of abysmal. A constant weak link that allowed Cleveland to set the tone and do whatever they wanted in the first half.
Lapses in coverage came thanks to non-existent pressure up front more often than not. This was a major worry before Week 1 after the Panthers lost Haason Reddick in free agency and didn’t do much to replace him.
Another element of frustration was discipline. Carolina gave up no fewer than eight penalties for 96 yards, which included one for Rhule and a negated interception by Xavier Woods due to an end-zone infringement by C.J. Henderson.
The Panthers were sloppy until a late rally almost saw them snatch victory. One that they didn’t deserve based on the encounter overall.
This falls on coaching. Rhule and his staff must get the Panthers better prepared and ready for every eventuality, but there is nothing the head coach can do about individual mistakes and countless missed tackles in the grand scheme of things.
A little perspective is needed after one game. Most established figures either played limited reps in the preseason or weren’t risked, so it would be a shock if things didn’t start improving in pursuit of ending a deeply concerning run of results.
Rhule didn’t appear too disheartened by what he saw from his team. But the former Baylor man acknowledged that being good for one quarter just isn’t going to cut it if Carolina wants to become competitive at long last.
"“We have to have a really good week, and we have to play much better. I think who we were in the fourth quarter is who we’d like to be. We just have to do it for 60 minutes. When we do that, we’ll be a good team.”"
Talk is cheap right now. Either the Panthers aren’t getting the message regarding problem areas and how to improve, or the correct methods to ensure players’ development aren’t being implemented by a coaching staff that is under serious pressure to get this sinking ship back on track.
The New York Giants pose a different threat in Week 2. But they’ll be buoyed by a morale-boosting win at the Tennessee Titans and should have their passionate fanbase in full voice during the first regular season home game for new head coach Brian Daboll.
Carolina’s sense of urgency should be palpable on Sunday. Simply put, the same problems cannot resurface if Rhule wants to finally come up with the goods and secure a much-needed success.