It’s been anything but a smooth start for the Panthers, as a 20-17 loss to the Saints has given them an 0-2 start. On top of that, injuries have piled up in a short period of time, leaving the team in an even worse situation. With the offensive struggles resulting in poor results, what exactly can Panthers fans cling to right now? While it may be disappointing, there are still plenty of bright spots within the team, and reasons to remain optimistic.
Patience for the Brand New Staff
The most important thing for fans to remember is how new this entire coaching staff is. There are some experienced coaches on hand, but these games have served as their first opportunities to all work together. It takes time to make everything gel, especially when the roster has seen an overhaul as well. Not only are the players growing accustomed to working together, but the coaches are too.
It hasn’t been pretty by any means, but the optimism formed around this staff should remain in place, at least for now. If time can’t resolve these issues then the front office may have to reassess some of their decisions. For now, two close losses aren’t reason enough to lose hope in everything that was built over the course of the offseason.
Even More Patience for Bryce Young
If fans can’t defend the coaching staff after two lackluster showings, at least be understanding of the slow start for the hopeful franchise quarterback. Bryce Young certainly hasn’t been fantastic, and poor results for a college phenom don’t usually result in positive press from the national media. As expected, many football fans have already become highly critical, even labeling the decision to draft Young as a mistake.
Two mediocre showings shouldn’t negate everything we’ve seen from Young thus far. Despite starting his career off with two divisional games, one being on Monday Night Football, Young has been as calm as advertised. Outside of a handful of ill-advised throws, the rookie has managed well with what he’s been given.
The receivers have struggled to break free, but Young has been efficient at hitting them when a window opens. He went 22/33 in the Saints game, and even scrambled twice for 34 yards. Inexperience combined with a struggling offensive line haven’t made the start of his career easy, but there’s been no reason to lose faith yet.
Defense Doing All They Can
The two losses have overshadowed what has been a very impressive start to the season for the defense. Despite dealing with major injuries to Jaycee Horn and Shaq Thompson, they’ve remained strong through most of the first two games. They’ve bent but never fully broken, especially given the amount they’ve seen the field due to the Panthers’ lack of offense.
They held Derek Carr to a relatively unimpressive showing outside of a few big plays. Vonn Bell snagged a huge interception towards the end of the first half, and they managed to keep the game close until the end.
The real highlight of this defense is the pass rush. Brian Burns is always impressive, but the biggest standout has been Frankie Luvu. Similar to last year, Luvu has been a nightmare for opposing defenses through two weeks of the season. This week he recorded a team-high nine tackles, including two crucial sacks. Kamu Grugier-Hill also managed to get a sack while filling in for Thompson.
The offense has yet to show any real signs of life, but the defense has kept games relatively close thus far. Between Burns, Luvu, Derrick Brown, and Yetur Gross-Matos, no opposing quarterback can truly relax in the pocket.
It’s Not as Bad as it Looks
After an offseason of preparing for a new era of football in Carolina, an 0-2 start is far from ideal. To make matters even worse, every other team in the division is 2-0 as of now. With that being said, there’s no reason to be despondent just yet.
As mentioned, it’s a brand new staff, with a brand new roster, led by a rookie quarterback. These things take time to sort out, which could easily go beyond just this season. Young isn’t a one-year rental, he’s who Panthers fans hope is the future of the team.
Even with all of these factors at play, Carolina kept their first two games close against solid defenses. Neither game completely got away from them, and they contended into the fourth quarter. They may not be lighting the world on fire, and they may not much at all this season, but these two losses shouldn’t be the reason anyone loses faith in the franchise.
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Featured image courtesy of the Carolina Panthers.
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