For the past three weeks, the Carolina Panthers' offense has failed to get the job done. In that time, Carolina has lost three straight games dropping their overall record to 3-3. Some blame can be placed on the defense but it's hard to do so when the offense has turned the ball over eight times in three weeks.
Quarterback Sam Darnold got off to a strong start in his first year with the organization helping lead the team to a 3-0 record but has seen his completion percentage and overall production drop week by week. Losing RB Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring injury has something to do with it but not all. Darnold's confidence was sky-high at the beginning of the year. Now, he's questioning everything and is trying to do too much to make up for the loss of his star running back.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule discussed the recent play of his starting quarterback and what he feels they need to do as an offense to make life easier for him.
"Sam is not playing well enough. Which means that Sean [Ryan], Joe [Brady], and me are not coaching good enough," Rhule stated. "We're 3-3, right? There's a lot of teams that are 3-3. I think it's just starkly clear in front of us what the issues are. We turned the ball over twice in our three wins. We turned the ball over eight times in our three losses. When I say Sam is not playing well, what does that mean? It means the offensive line isn't getting it done for him, it means the running backs aren't getting it done for him - everyone on offense. Every receiver, every tight end, every back, every o-lineman, their job is to help our quarterback play well. We're not getting that done. The shame of the game yesterday to me when you really go back and watch the game is we ran the football well, we've just not been committed enough to running it. That's going to change, I can just tell you that right now. You'll see a vastly different look from us moving forward. We're not going to lineup and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that that's going to win the game for us. It hasn't. We're going to redefine who we are and we're going to run the football and we're going to protect our quarterback, and we're not going to turn the ball over anymore. We need to fix ourselves first. We don't need to panic. We don't need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We're 3-3. We've got to stop turning the football over and we have to stop the run on defense."
In my opinion, this is exactly what the Panthers should have done from the very beginning. Let's be real, Sam Darnold isn't Patrick Mahomes, he's not Josh Allen. He's not going to be able to singlehandedly win you games if you are too dependant on his arm. He needs to have a solid run game which the Panthers have whether or not Christian McCaffrey is in the lineup or not. Chuba Hubbard has proven that he can be effective in the run game through the first six games. If you play elite defense and run the football with efficiency, Sam Darnold will win you football games. If you don't, you get what you've seen the past three weeks.
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