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Carolina Panthers offense takes another personnel hit, fall to Saints in 28-6 collapse



The Carolina Panthers went into the Sunday game having kept their past few games within reach of a win. The team (1-11) over their last 4 games decided by only 1 score had hopes of grabbing a divisional win in New Orleans.


Going into the game versus the Saints, QB Bryce Young had already been sacked 44 times in the 2023 season. That number would increase during the poor offensive showing by the team.


And the Panthers defense ranked 7th overall headed into the matchup would also get dinged up by the Saints offense.


The Panthers went three and out on the first drive to start the game. They also lost recently signed guard Justin McCray during the drive to a calf strain. Then later in the first quarter, the Saints get a short field, but come up empty when kicker Blake Grupe hooked the FG attempt left after an 11-play 45-yard drive that was anchored with 33 yards rushing ...and 63 yards on the ground I'm the first quarter.


Later in the first quarter - on first and ten the Saints unleash their pass rush and Bryce Young gets hit trying to make the pass and Saints linebacker Pete Werner recovered for the Saints.


Despite the first quarter ending in a scoreless battle, the second quarter saw the Saints finish a 6-play 44-yard drive with a 9-yard Alvin Kamara run.


Later in the second quarter, Panthers got a scare when Chuba Hubbard went down with a knew injury after a 7 yard gain - but did return to the game just one play later. Hubbard finished the game with 27 rushes for 87 yards.


Later in the same drive, Bryce Young sniffed out the man coverage and picked up a 21-yard gain to pick up the first down - the biggest gain for the Panthers in the first half. Eddy Piniero finished the 12-play, 46-yard drive with a 47-yard field goal. 7-3 Saints with under 10 minutes left in the first half.


Late in the 2nd quarter DeMarco Jackson got the scoop and score after the Johnny Hekker punt attempt was blocked by Nephi Sewell. The play was later ruled a fumble and recovery by officials. The score extended the saints lead to 14-3 going into the half after the Panthers could not turn a Derrick Brown interception into points on the board.


The Panthers out-rushed the Saints in the first half with 106 yards on the ground. But Bruce Youn was only 3-of-15 for 29 yards due to the pressure from the Saints defense in the first half.


2ND HALF


The Panthers got a boost in the 3rd quarter when running back Miles Sanders picked up 48 yards for a Panthers first down to the Saints one yard line. Then, on second down, Dario Davis sacked Bryce Young for a 9-yard loss and the Panthers settled for the field goal to finish the 12-play, 75-yard drive. The Panthers trailed by 8 with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.


On a late 3rd quarter drive, the Adam Thielen's 32-yard reception set the Panthers up in the red zone. But Saints defensive end Carl Granderson made the 47th sack on Bryce Young this year. And an Eddy Piniero missed field goal attempt left the Saints 14-6 lead in tact with less 13:38 left in regulation.


Chris Olave helped extend the Saints lead to 20-6 with the 7-yard reception to cap the 5-play, 63-yard drive that featured two big receptions - a 43-yarder by A.T. Perry, and an acrobatic catch by the 6-foot-7 Tight End Jimmy Graham.


And later in the 4th quarter, Jeremy Chinn failed to stop Graham in the end zone for the 4-yard touchdown reception.


Bryce Young finished the game going 13-of-36 for 137 passing yards but also contributed 40 yards rushing and was the team's third leading rusher.


Chuba Hubbard led the Panthers 204-yard rushing attack - the team's best performance on the ground this season -and Hubbard second high performance showing in the last two games.


Ian Thomas also left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. The injury could be costly to a Tight End room that has taken some significant hits all year.


The 28-6 loss brought the Panthers record to 1-12 on the season. The team now returns home for their next matchup as they prepare to host the Atlanta falcons Sunday Dec. 17 at 1:00 p.m. EST at Bank of America Stadium. The loss was a point of frustration for interim head coach Chris Tabor. "I don't like to lose. I don't care what the circumstances are. I don't like to lose," Tabor said.


"We need to figure out how to win. It's not going to magically happen for you. When your number is called, you gotta make a play."



Panthers Saints

Total Yards 303 207

Pass Yards 99 110

Sack Yards/Loss 4-38 1-9

Rush Yards 204 97

Rush 1st Downs 11 5

Penalties 4-27 3-30

Turnovers 2 1



Observations:


Panthers Offense

The Panthers have firgured out the run game since Frank reich's departure but still have to firgure out pass protection for Bryce Young.


Despite his mostly positive development, Bryce Young still struggle with connecting with his receivers. On a deep pass to DJ Chark, Young failed to deliver a more catchable pass for Chark and left the ball place where it was vulnerable to the defender. In other case, there were overthrows when the pass protection was clearly upholding. Perhaps it is Young developing a nervousness in the pocket because of the extensive number of sacks he's taken this season, but it something that needs to be firgured out during what is being dubbed as his developmental year.


Panthers need to address the offensive line situation in the offseason to fine tune the pass protection. The Panthers pass protection has given up 48 sacks on Bryce Young this season.


Panthers Defense

The Panthers run defense has been an issue for several seasons and does not appear to have the personnel to make the changes necessary without Shaq Thompson and more depth at linebacker. If Ejiro Evero is retained as defensive coordinator after this season, he'll have his work cut out for mhimself to solve the reamining peice of what could be a top-3 defense in the NFL.



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