Panthers Week Four- Embarrassing Performance On Keep Pounding Night.

October 2, 2022

On Keep Pounding night where the Panthers honored legendary linebacker Sam Mills the Panthers’ offense once again was an embarrassment for Carolina as they were beaten 26-16 by the Arizona Cardinals. 

What a difference a week can make, spirits were high when the Panthers beat the New Orleans Saints in Week Three. Fast forward seven days and we saw frankly an embarrassing offensive display from the Panthers, retched play calling from offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo coupled with shocking quarterback play from Baker Mayfield meant that despite playing statistically one of the worst defenses in the league the Panthers offense put up a measly 220 yards of total offense. 

The defense for the most part did all they could, an early fourth down stop by Brian Burns set the tone for the Panthers in the first half. Frankie Luvu was involved again picking off Kyler Murray for a pick-six, an early injury to starting safety Jeremy Chinn meant the Panthers were missing a key part of the secondary, and this meant extended reps for backup Sean Chandler who is frankly a practice squad player at best.

Unfortunately, as the game wore on a familiar pattern emerged with the Panthers’ offense failing to sustain drives forcing the defense on the field regularly we see the defense worn out and unable to get stops. This was penciled as the “easiest” part of the Panthers’ schedule, but the Panthers now find themselves 1-3 with one more home game before a daunting drip out West to face the Super Bowl champion LA Rams. The Panthers under Rhule are now 1-26 when opponents score more than 17 points, If things continue Matt Rhule may well find himself looking for a new job.

Panthers Offense Miserable Again

Just when you thought this Carolina offense couldn’t get much worse they regressed into Jimmy Clausen levels of bad. Going up against statistically, one of the worst secondaries in the league this was the perfect opportunity for Baker Mayfield to find his feet. Instead, it was simply a horror show from the former first overall pick as the Panthers were once again appalling on third down going two for ten. 

Mayfield ended the game with stats of 22/36 for 197 yards, a single score to go with a pair of INTs with a measly passer rating of 61.9. Mayfield was once again plagued by batted balls another four adding to his pre-game season high of seven, whether that is down to offensive scheming or execution something must change. After being dominated by the Cardinals the Panthers face a much better 49ers defense in week five.

It’s hard to find any positives with this offensive display, the run game that Carolina had developed well over the first four weeks was non-existent in week five as the Panthers managed just 40 rushing yards. It wasn’t much better through the air as Mayfield struggled again, missing DJ Moore on numerous occasions, more finished the game with six receptions for 50 yards but still struggled to get involved. We also saw the front office decision to extend Ian Thomas continually prove to make little sense as the former fourth-round pick dropped two key passes, as a shoddy offensive performance that ended in audible boos from the home fans.

Panthers Defense Does All It Can

Despite giving up 26 points and over 300 yards of offense it’s difficult to field much blame on the defense as for the first half they kept the home side in the game, a pick-six from emerging star Frankie Luvu set the tone early as the defense stifled exciting Cardinals, QB Kylar Murray. When the Panthers went into the break-up 10-3 most of that was down to the defensive play. 

Unfortunately for Carolina, the second half followed a similar trend. As the game wore on the offense was unable to sustain any drives meaning the defense was constantly out on the field, the time of possession numbers show a sorry picture with the Cardinals having 38:35s of possession compared to just 21:25 for the Panthers. Through the last two weeks the Panthers’ defense has matched the offense with two scores a piece, going forward it’s simply unsustainable for so much pressure to be placed on Phil Snow’s unit.

Simply, the Panthers must do better across the board, Head Coach Matt Rhule is under real pressure as he slips to 11-26 as an NFL head coach and chants of Fire Matt Rhule were audible at the end of the game, there’s also pressure on Ben McAdoo as his playcalling throughout the first five weeks of the season has been subpar, we saw last season offensive coordinator Joe Brady was fired midway through the season. With five weeks of McAdoo offense, it’s hard to see how his tenure won’t end the same way.

The excuses are starting to run out for Mayfield, while it’s fair to give the Quarterback some leeway for his lack of work with the Panthers’ starting unit and Mayfield has not benefited from some vanilla playcalling from McAdoo. However, Mayfield must simply do better, there was real excitement amongst Panther fans when the Panthers traded for Mayfield he has done little to excite so far. While I’m not ready to call for him to start yet, it’s hard to argue Mayfield has been better than 2021 starter Sam Darnold so far.