Another week and another loss for the Panthers in week 2. The team started badly but did finish strong until finally falling short. 3 first half turnovers by Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater led to a 21-0 halftime deficit for the Panthers. Tom Brady and Tampa Bay made Carolina pay for the turnovers and built a lead that proved insurmountable. In the second half Carolina was able to fight back with 2 rushing touchdowns from Christian Mccaffrey. After holding Tampa to a field goal and adding a field goal of their own the Tampa lead was cut to 24-17, giving the Panthers a chance late in the game. However on Tampa’s next possession Leonard Fournette broke free for a 46 yard touchdown run, putting the game out of reach. The Panthers fall to 0-2 on the season after dropping this one 31-17.
As I wrote last week The Panthers needed to stay turnover free if they had a chance to win, they had 4 turnovers while only forcing 2. The defense in the first half was terrible, in their defense they were on the field too much. In the second half the defense was able to force 2 turnovers which kept the team in it, this has to continue if the Panthers are going to have any success this season. However the Panthers are still without a single sack thru the first 2 weeks which is just unacceptable. The defense was without Kawaan Short and rookie Yetur Gross-Matos so hopefully they can return soon. If the D-line continues to go without getting any significant pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the unit as a whole will continue to struggle.
Christian Mccaffrey suffered a high ankle sprain injury in the 3rd quarter and was unable to return to the game. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks which is a devastating blow to the offense. Mike Davis will now step in and attempt to replace the All-pro running back. Davis did some good things Sunday once called upon; he recorded 8 receptions for 74 yards but only had 1 rush attempt for 1 yard. The team is going to have to rely heavily on the passing game. Robby Anderson had his 2nd 100 yard receiving game in as many weeks, continuing to show he may be the number 1 guy for Carolina this year. DJ Moore also added 8 receptions for 120 yards, neither receiver found the endzone however.
Week 3 the Panthers will be on the road again, traveling to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers who sit at 1-1. The Chargers gave the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs all they could handle last week, taking the game to overtime before falling 23-20. Los Angeles defeated Cincinnati 16-13 in week 1. It appears that Tyrod Taylor will return to the starting lineup next week against Carolina. Rookie QB Justin Herbert came in to replace Tyrod after he sustained a minor injury during last weeks game. The Chargers have a high powered offense with receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams along with tight end Hunter Henry and running back Austin Ekeler. On defense for LA they have 4 sacks threw their first 2 games led by Joey Bosa with 2. They were also able to hold KC to only 23 points which is impressive.
My projection for this week is not going to be as optimistic as last. The Panthers will be without their best offensive player, Christian Mccaffrey. Mike Davis should give an admirable performance replacing him but you just cant realistically replace Mccaffrey’s production. Carolina is going to have to rely heavily on the passing attack at this point to remain competitive. However with the defense struggling to get any sort of pressure on the Quarterback and also the young secondary struggling against top receivers; The Chargers will be too much for Carolina. My prediction; Chargers 31 Panthers 21. The Panthers will keep it close but without Mccaffrey I don’t see them putting up enough points to win.
The Panthers will now be sitting at 0-3 on the season. With Christian going down with this injury, alot of people will be calling for the team to intentionally tank the season. They won’t intentionally tank, let me tell you why. The owner David Tepper has said that the only thing he cares about is winning, not tanking for a better draft pick. The coaching staff is young, the team is young, and they will look to get better and compete every week. Mccaffrey will return sooner rather than later and this team will start winning… hopefully. So stay patient Panthers fans, trust the process. It’s going to take a little while but i still believe they are headed in the right direction. Keep Pounding, I know it’s tough.