According to Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
The Carolina Panthers have been affected by injuries on their defensive unit.
In the meantime, the team’s offense continues to struggle with frequent errors.
That combination resulted in a 42-24 blowout loss to the Detroit Lions, adding to what has been disastrous start for first-year head coach Frank Reich in Carolina. The Panthers are the league’s only winless team after the Bears got off the schneid Thursday night behind a 230-yard, three-touchdown game from wide receiver D.J, Moore, a player the Panthers traded to Chicago to move up to No. 1 in the draft.
No NFL team has been able to recover from a 0-5 start and make it to the playoffs in the Super Bowl era.
However, Reich is not focused on the playoffs at the moment.
At the moment, he simply desires for his team to “continue relentlessly,” taking inspiration from the team’s catchphrase coined by former Carolina linebacker Sam Mills, and strive for their initial victory.
“No one envisioned this,” Reich said of his team’s poor start. “This is the embodiment of ‘keep pounding’ and the only way you do that is if you believe. If you believe, it’s going to make a difference. Otherwise, you just check out. It’s a mental toughness that even when things aren’t going your way, we go back in and try to have our best week of work ever this week because I think it will make a difference in me.”
Putting mental toughness aside, the Panthers may not have a sufficient number of skilled players on the field to effectively compete.
The Panthers are currently missing four of their defensive starters, which includes both Jaycee Horn and Donte Jackson at cornerback, Shaq Thompson as inside linebacker and emotional leader, and Xavier Woods at safety.
On Sunday, the Lions capitalized on their opportunities.
Jared Goff threw for 236 yards and three touchdowns, completing 20 out of 28 passes. He also scored a touchdown while running. Detroit scored touchdowns on six out of nine possessions they attempted to score, with the exception of taking a knee at the end of the first and second half.
The Carolina offense did not provide much support for the defense in their game against the Lions. Quarterback Bryce Young made two costly interceptions and running back Miles Sanders also had a fumble, resulting in 21 points for the Lions in the first half. Additionally, the Panthers were penalized seven times during the game, and the offense continued to struggle with crowd noise due to having a rookie quarterback leading the team.
Reich stated that he did not contemplate substituting Young with experienced player Andy Dalton during Sunday’s game.
“No one wants to be here, but it’s where we’re at,” Young said. “Obviously we have to clean this stuff up and then we have to turn the page. We’re going to get back to work, look at this stuff, see stuff we need to correct, see stuff we can build off of and no matter how bad anyone feels, how bad we all feel, we own it in the locker room.”
The frustration of defeat is beginning to affect me.
Brian Burns, the outside linebacker for the team who has been selected for the Pro Bowl twice, expressed his frustration by throwing his helmet in disappointment on the sideline. This happened after defensive tackle Nick Thurman made a costly mistake by jumping offside on a fourth-and-1 play with approximately 11 minutes left in the game.
The upcoming game at Miami does not look promising for the Panthers, as they are currently considered a 14-point underdog.
Adam Thielen, the wide receiver for the Panthers, is flourishing in their offense. In their recent game against the Lions, he made 11 receptions for 107 yards and scored a touchdown. In his last four games, Thielen has maintained an average of nine catches and 95.5 yards per game, scoring three touchdowns.
WHAT NEEDS HELP
The Panthers once again faced challenges with penalties before the snap, including a delay of game. “I take full responsibility for that,” Young admitted. “Clearly, I need to improve my awareness of the clock.” Carolina also faced similar problems in their loss to Seattle during Week 3 on the road.
Eddy Pineiro’s record of 25 consecutive successful field goals ended in Week 3 when he missed a 55-yard attempt. However, he appears determined to begin a new streak, as he has made four consecutive kicks since then.
Miles Sanders, the running back signed by the Panthers as a free agent, has not lived up to their expectations. He is now seeing a decrease in playing time due to Chuba Hubbard. Sanders’ fumble during the game against the Lions resulted in a touchdown for the opposing team. In the end, Hubbard received nine carries compared to Sanders’ seven, but this may have been influenced by the fact that the game was already decided in the fourth quarter. Laviska Shenault also had five carries.
Chandler Zavala, a new guard, has returned to Charlotte to recover from a neck injury. He was discharged from a hospital in Detroit and accompanied the team back home after being carried off the field during the first quarter. The medical team took precautions by stabilizing Zavala’s neck with a brace and transporting him on a backboard to the locker room after he was injured on a running play. Fortunately, he was able to move all of his limbs. The length of his absence is currently unknown.
The Panthers were already missing their starting guards, Austin Corbett and Brady Christensen. However, Corbett is nearing clearance.
The Panthers have a record of 27 wins and 58 losses since David Tepper became the team’s owner in 2018.
On Sunday, the Panthers will be heading to Miami to go against the strong Dolphins team.