4 Carolina Panthers failing to meet expectations through the 2023 bye week

Hopes were high for this Carolina Panthers unit.
Miles Sanders
Miles Sanders / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

I want to share that one of the most disappointing names to put on a list is Ikem Ekwonu. The second-year pro had an outstanding rookie season but is currently experiencing a sophomore slump, although he's steadily improving.

Fans were eager to name Ekwonu as the franchise left tackle after an exceptional rookie campaign. However, his recent performance levels have left most staggered.

Through the first six weeks of the NFL season, Ekwonu has earned a 59.8 grade from Pro Football Focus. He is tied for the second-most penalties in the league with eight and has also allowed three sacks.

Additionally, there are instances where he appears to be confused or unsure on the field. Especially in pass protection with no stable left guard alongside him after Brady Christensen was ruled out for the entire campaign.

It is undeniable that Ekwonu possesses the necessary skills to steer this ship in the right direction. However, he must maintain his self-confidence and rectify mental errors.

This is crucial since he is responsible for protecting the blindside of quarterback Bryce Young, who has already suffered some unfortunate hits in his early career.