The Carolina Panthers beat the New York Jets 19-14 on Sunday and players stood out all over the field for the Panthers. After a long offseason, seeing the Panthers take the field on Sunday was like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day. Let's touch on a couple of players who stood out on Sunday afternoon.
Offensive Players of the Week
Christian McCaffrey (21 carries, 98 yards, 9 receptions, 89 yards)
He's back. If there was any thought that Matt Rhule and Joe Brady would ease All-Pro Christian McCaffrey in after missing most of last season, it was gone in a flash. CMC touched the ball early and often and carried the Panther offense on his back for most of the game. McCaffrey was dynamic, efficient, and effective all afternoon. Where would this offense be without him?
Sam Darnold (24/35, 279 yards, 1 touchdown, 5 carries, -1 yard, 1 touchdown)
It wasn't an incredible outing by Darnold, but it got the job done. Darnold left a couple of throws on the table, but he made enough plays to win the game for the Panthers. The touchdown throw to Robby Anderson was picturesque and showed the ceiling that Darnold optimists have been alluding to all offseason. If Carolina wants any chance to beat New Orleans next week Darnold needs to play better, but he was good enough to win in week one.
Defensive Players of the Week
Shaq Thompson (10 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception)
Shaq Thompson came out onto the field with a new number and a newfound swagger. Shaq was all over the field on Sunday afternoon and the statsheet shows it. Thompson's first half itnerception set up the Panthers' for the first score of their season, and his sack ended a Jets drive in the fourth quarter when the Panthers were desperate for a stop. Shaq is the vocal leader of the defense, and he led by example with his play on Sunday.
Derrick Brown (4 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble)
Rumors are going around that Zach Wilson is still stuck in the turf at Bank of America Stadium after being bulldozed by Derrick Brown in the fourth quarter on Sunday.
On Sunday, Brown flashed the potential that the Panthers saw in him before the 2020 draft. He was a menace in the run game and was successful rushing the passer as well. If Brown continues eating up blockers on the interior and commanding a double team, Brian Burns and the rest of the Panthers' edge players will continue to succeed and there may be a special defense brewing in Carolina.