This is not what Carolina Panthers fans expected when the team traded up to get the top choice of last year’s NFL draft. Not what they expected after the franchise used the top pick on a quarterback. What they did expect was some offense.
Thus far, No. 1 pick Bryce Young and the Panthers have struggled to push the ball down field in their first two games, two losses. Until they figure out how to do that, they will likely continue to lose.
I am basing this thinking on the fact that Carolina has just one pass play of longer than 15 yards this season, a 22-yard reception by rookie Jonathan Mingo in Monday’s 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints. The setback left the Panthers to an 0-2 start, two games behind unbeaten NFC South rivals Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans.
I hope fans are not pinning all the early season woes on Young. True, he’s struggled at times to connect with open receivers. But there has also been a shortage of open receivers. And he seems to be under constant duress from the opponent’s pass rush.
The offensive line has struggled with pass protection in part because of having to start two young players at the guard spots with regulars Austin Corbett and Brady Christensen on injured reserve. And Carolina’s receiving group which consists of Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, Terrace Marshall and Mingo are not getting enough separation.
Yes, it has been a team effort to reach the 0-2 mark. A team that is averaging just 13.5 points and 133 yards per game through the air. They have also turned the ball over four times leading to 17 points. The Panthers also are not getting the job done on third down, converting fewer than one-third (9 of 28) of their opportunities.
Yes, the offense has been bad.
The Panthers do have a pretty good defense. The pass rush, in particular, is getting the job done with eight sacks in the first two games. One of the big problems is they’ve been on the field too much as they have not had the support from the offense.
Finding offense as soon as possible is a must. It will not be easy this week as the Panthers head out West to face Seattle on Sunday.