- The Panthers lost a tight battle to the Eagles in a game between two of the NFC's best teams. But the remainder of Carolina's season outlook depends on how Luke Kuechly fares from his latest concussion.
Three thoughts off the Eagles’ 28-23 win against the Panthers Thursday night.
1. Memo to Carson Wentz: You are not a fullback. The young quarterback’s grit is appreciated, but to a point. He lowered his shoulder into safety Mike Adams near the goal line late in the first half and again tried to truck over the Panthers on third-and-4 with a three-yard scramble. Everyone appreciates toughness, and those two plays certainly show that Wentz isn’t scared. However, this Philadelphia team isn’t a playoff squad with Nick Foles at the controls. A separated shoulder will set back a promising NFC squad, and Doug Pederson has to impress upon his second-year quarterback that there’s more to the season than a third-quarter, first-down conversion.
2. The last Thursday night game played in Charlotte left Luke Kuechly concussed and out for the rest of the 2016 season. This Thursday, he again faced the biggest impediment in his march toward the Hall of Fame. Carolina’s all-world linebacker suffered his third concussion in as many years in a second-quarter collision. On a play near the goal line, Eagles guard Brandon Brooks collided with Kuechly in the backfield, striking Kuechly in the left shoulder area and then making incidental contact with Kuechly’s head on the ground.
The corner in Carolina is a familiar one, unfortunately. Kuechly suffered his first known concussion in the 2015 season opener that sidelined him for four games. In Week 11 last year against the Saints, Kuechly left the field in tears and—though he was cleared to play late in the season—was held out for the remainder of a 6-10 campaign.
Kuechly has been wearing a Q collar this season, an experimental device designed to slow blood flow out of the skull cavity during a hit to provide better cushion for the brain. But even the best science couldn’t prevent this third concussion. The news was the greatest fear to fans and observers concerned with the long-term health of the game’s best middle linebacker.
3. In case it was unclear before Thursday night, the NFC is far and away the better conference in the NFL. Just four days after we were treated to the best game of the season between the Packers and Cowboys, we got a battle of two 4-1 teams in Charlotte. There was a defensive struggle in the first half followed by gigantic plays from both star quarterbacks in the second half. The AFC has the Chiefs, the Patriots and maybe the Broncos, depending upon how Trevor Siemian plays. But the NFC proudly boasts the Panthers, Eagles, Cowboys, Packers, Falcons and Lions. Now just imagine how great this game would have been if these teams were playing on a Sunday with a normal week of rest.