5 harsh lessons the Carolina Panthers must learn heading into Week 4 vs. Vikngs

The Carolina Panthers' margin for error has gone from slim to non-existent.

Yetur Gross-Matos
Yetur Gross-Matos / Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers have a penalty problem

Lack of discipline, being underprepared, learning new schemes and terminology, the lights shining too bright - pick the excuse you like the most and I’m not going to argue with you. The result is the same - the Carolina Panthers have a penalty problem.

Through the first three weeks, the Panthers have been flagged for 28 penalties for a total of 183 yards. After amassing nine in the opening game, they did “improve” to six in Week 2. Then the floodgates opened in Lumen Field, where the team was called for 13 infractions.

There has been so much emphasis on the qualifications of this coaching staff and the vast NFL experience that the collective provides. The hemorrhaging of free yardage and extra opportunities via penalties is unacceptable. Head coach Frank Reich echoed that exact sentiment, calling the Week 3 fiasco totally inexcusable and pathetic, among other things.

Starting left tackle Ikem Ekwonu was responsible for four of the eight false start penalties. The former first-round pick acknowledged his frustration with himself for the poor showing, but it’s going to take considerable action on his part before fans start to feel any warm fuzzies for the hopeful franchise bookend lineman.

The team comes home to the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium for the upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings. As long as the 12th Man doesn’t follow the team across the country, the Panthers will look to bounce back and disprove the stigma that’s starting to stick to their name.

Here's to hoping we all wake up next Monday to find ourselves on February 3.