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Monday Takeaways: Panthers lose to Rams 30-27 – Week 1

Observations from the Panthers Week 1 30-27 loss to the Rams

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A few takeaways from the Carolina Panthers Week 1 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Sept 8th 2019.

Christian McCaffrey is going to become the 3rd player in NFL history to have 1000 yards rushing and 1000 yards receiving in the same season. McCaffrey WAS the offense for the Panthers on Sunday, with 19 carries for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns, a torrid 6.7 yards per carry against a stout Rams front 7. He also picked up 10 receptions for 81 yards, giving C Mac 209 yards of total offense on the day.

This idea that McCaffrey isnt one of the top running backs in the NFL is ridiculous. He may be THE best RB in the league currently. Is there anyone you would rather have out of the backfield currently? McCaffrey will be a work horse for the Panthers this season and a potential darkhorse MVP candidate.

Cam Newton is not a bad QB. He was simply rusty. Newton had an up and down day. He was off on his throws early, especially to his normal security blanked in TE Greg Olsen. He also tossed an interception in the 4th quarter as the Panthers were trying to drive for a score. Newton finished 25/38 for 239 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Newton completed 65% of his passes, but the immediate concern among Panthers faithful is that the former league MVP didnt even attempt a pass longer than 15 yards down the field all day. Maybe that was by design, or…maybe it wasn’t. Can the Panthers extend the field and throw deep? They will need to answer that question very soon, before teams stop respecting the notion…just like the second half of 2018.

Shaq Thompson and James Bradberry want to reup. The two best defenders on the Panthers defense on Sunday were clearly LB Shaq Thompson and CB James Bradberry. Shaq led all tacklers with 9 total, 7 unassisted. Bradberry had an interception and a sack. Both are in contract years and both looked great yesterday in limiting Rams QB Jared Goff to only 186 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Look for both guys to get contract extensions, possibly during the season.

Where was Curtis Samuel? All of training camp, the narrative has been that Curtis Samuel was the MVP of the camp, making eye catching grab after grab. Panthers fans were salivating with the idea of Samuel burning Corner Backs around the league.

Well….where was he yesterday? Samuel only had 3 catches for 32 yards. Granted the entire Panthers offense except Christian McCaffrey looked off on Sunday, but Samuel wasn’t even targeted but a handful of times and the Panthers never took a shot downfield once. Look for that to change on Thursday night vs the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Panthers fans are fickle and have short memories. I made the mistake of venturing into a number of large Panthers fans Facebook groups immediately after the game. The number of fans calling for the Panthers to trade Cam Newton was jarring. Cam Newton wasn’t exactly solely to blame for Sunday’s loss. The Panthers had 4 turnovers, including a costly 4th quarter interception from Newton. The Panthers also had a weird play to DJ Moore that was ruled a lateral pass and fumble…as well as a second fumble by DJ Moore and a missed early field goal by Joey Slye. Yet somehow, all I saw was that Cam Newton is the worst QB ever, the Panthers need to bench him, trade him, banish him.

Get over yourselves.

If you think the Panthers are better off without Cam Newton, you havent been paying much attention the past 8 years. Cam Newton is the ONLY reason why the Panthers are even remotely relevant nationally. Cam Newton gives the Panthers a chance to win every week. Cam Newton is the reason why the Panthers were able to rally in the 4th quarter on Sunday and lose to the defending NFC Champs, even after giving them 4 turnovers as a team and allowing over 150 yards rushing on the ground. Cam Newton is NOT the main issue the Panthers have. And this isnt a “its everyone’s fault but Cam’s” post either. ALL of the Panthers, offense, defense and special teams played flat for 3 quarters, and when they decided to show up, it was too big of a hole to climb out of against a really good Rams team.

The Panthers as a unit played a sloppy week 1 game vs one of the more talented teams in the entire league. Climb off the ledge. The schedule over the next 5 weeks includes two games vs Tampa Bay, who are having MUCH bigger issues with their QB Jameis Winston…games vs Jacksonville, who just lost QB Nick Foles to a broken collarbone, Arizona with a rookie Kyler Murray at QB, and the Houston Texans. Carolina could and should emerge from the first 6 weeks of the season at 4-2 or 5-1. IF the Panthers clean up the self inflicted wounds from Sunday. They will get a chance to wash the taste out of their mouths early with a Thursday Night tilt vs the Bucs this week.

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