3 lessons the Carolina Panthers must learn heading into Week 5 at Lions

The Carolina Panthers look to learn from another loss...

Josh McCown and Bryce Young
Josh McCown and Bryce Young / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Chuba Hubbard might just be Carolina Panthers RB1

Miles Sanders was one of the biggest splash acquisitions of the offseason, signing a four-year, $25.4 million contract to serve as the bellcow for this Carolina Panthers offense. After four games, I’m not so sure that positioning has been earned going forward.

While it’s been just shy of a quarter of the regular season, the early results aren’t great for Sanders. From 54 rushing attempts, he's gained 158 rushing yards and one touchdown. He has added 15 receptions for 81 additional receiving yards to his total production, as well as a fumble.

As a Philadelphia Eagle from 2019 through 2022, Sanders boasted a 5.1 yards per attempt average. So far in 2023, the former Pann State Nittany Lion is the owner of a putrid 2.9 YPA - good for No. 45 in the NFL.

Enter Chuba Hubbard. He was noticeably the most effective rusher in the Week 1 ground-dominant battle at the Atlanta Falcons - ripping off 60 rushing yards on nine attempts for a 6.7 YPA. The next two weeks combined, he was only given three carries for 18 yards - a 6.0 YPA in a tiny sample size.

In Week 4, Sanders carried the ball 13 times for 19 yards. That’s good for 1.5 YPA. Hubbard surpassed him in carries by one, registering 14 rushes for 41 yards - setting his YPA at 2.9.

The run game was anemic in general. However, the former fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma State clearly displayed more burst and decisiveness.

Carolina's offensive line is severely struggling, which is part of the concern with their running game. But the disparity between Sanders (2.09) and Hubbard (3.96) in yards after contact per attempt from Pro Football Focus paints a clear picture of who is the more effective back by a wide margin.

I understand the financial implications and that the staff has been vocal about their affinity for Sanders. But if his play continues to be detrimental to this team’s success - it may be time to consider a change in the pecking order.