Jay Cohen from Associated Press
Bryce Young consistently expressed a desire to improve his performance. Carolina coach Frank Reich acknowledged that he needed to do a better job. Chuba Hubbard and Terrace Marshall also echoed this sentiment.
After yet another weak offensive showing, it is evident that the Panthers are aware their offense is not meeting the standards required for victory. However, there has been no alteration in their approach.
Chicago dominated Carolina in a Thursday night game, resulting in a 16-13 defeat. The Panthers only managed to gain 213 yards and 12 first downs, their lowest performance of the season. They struggled on third downs, converting only 3 out of 15 attempts, and were unable to score a single offensive touchdown for the second time in their first nine games of the season.
“He’s not the only one,” stated Reich, a former quarterback in the NFL. “Can he improve? Certainly. Can I improve? Definitely. Can we all enhance our performance on offense? Absolutely, without a doubt.”
Young did not have any turnovers during Sunday’s game against Indianapolis, but he did throw three interceptions which led to a 27-13 loss. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns by Kenny Moore. Additionally, Young only threw for 185 yards and was sacked three times.
In the second quarter, Eddy Pineiro successfully kicked a 33-yard field goal, followed by a 39-yarder in the fourth. However, this was the extent of Carolina’s offensive success. The Panthers (1-8) only managed to score one touchdown in the game, which was achieved by Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s 79-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Young, who completed 21 out of 38 passes, expressed his frustration by saying, “We are all feeling frustrated. This is not a desirable situation for us to be in. It does not align with our identity or our aspirations. Our performance on the field is a reflection of who we are, and we need to improve.”
Carolina chose Young as their top pick in the NFL draft, trading with Chicago for the opportunity. In exchange, Carolina gave up their first-round pick in the following year’s draft, which could also be the first pick if they continue to struggle.
Although Young and Carolina’s offense struggled to make progress during the majority of the game, Tyson Bagent, a rookie from Division II Shepherd University who went undrafted, led Chicago to a 4-yard touchdown run by former Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman and three successful field goals.
They were able to barely prevent the Panthers from succeeding.
“We need to execute our plays, improve our football skills, and make smarter decisions,” stated Hubbard, who was the leading rusher for Carolina with 23 yards. “We have so much potential as a team, but we’re not living up to it at the moment.”
Despite struggling offensively, the Carolina team still had the opportunity to even the score in the fourth quarter. They advanced to the Chicago 41 yard line on their final possession, but Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn almost intercepted Young’s pass on third-and-10. Instead of attempting a fourth down conversion, coach Reich opted to have Pineiro attempt a 59-yard field goal against his former NFL team.
“It was a difficult choice. There were conflicting views on the course of action,” stated Reich. “Ultimately, the decision is mine.”
At the start of the season, Reich was in charge of calling the offensive plays for Carolina. However, after the Panthers started with six consecutive losses, he passed those responsibilities to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown.
The desired outcome has not been met thus far. Since the change, Carolina has only scored two offensive touchdowns in three games.
According to Young, it is not the decisions made in the game, but rather the performance on the field that is the issue. Despite being given chances, the team fails to execute properly. Young takes responsibility for this and acknowledges the need for improvement on his part.