From my experience at the Panthers game on Sunday, Sept 25, I would say that was the quietest I’ve heard the fanbase after a win. Even though the Panthers finally ended their 9 game losing streak against the Saints with a 22-14 victory, there is still lots of work to be done for the team. Not just that, but the hot seat for Rhule is still staying warm. Let’s break it down:
The Offense: Well Needed Chemistry
Starting with some stats to throw out there, Mayfield was 12/25 throwing for 170 yards. Though it’s not completely terrible, he still didn’t look comfortable and the chemistry on the field was a bit off. Having some issues with connecting to receiver DJ Moore, Baker needs his reliable man Higgins on the field. If you’re not going to use one of your star players for plays you truly need, put someone like him out there on the field that has that connection with Mayfield to get something to work. Along with that, the play calling McAdoo had through the game wasn’t much, leaving McCaffrey with another big load to carry. He finished the game leading in rushing with 25 carries for 108 yards.
Shenault Jr. Shines In Debut
One thing that fans enjoyed seeing out of the special teams core was Leviska Shenault Jr. If there’s any receiver that can be used more after this week (besides DJ), it’s definitely him. He caught two passes for 90 yards with one touchdown, having two kick returns for 54 yards total. He could potentially be used more in punt returns over Shi Smith, who is fun to watch, but has left some weary of his work. It was definitely fun getting to watch Shenault’s abilities be put to use for the first time as a Panther. He is a player that many didn’t believe in, but hope to see more out of in the future.
“Defense Wins Games”
Now, let’s talk about the defense. In my opinion, they’re the ones who deserve the credit for the win. Marquis Haynes got the defense accelerated with his recovered fumble for a touchdown, leading the Panthers to an early 7-0. Jeremy Chinn showed out, causing a lot of pressure on QB Jameis Winston; he had a total of 8 tackles with 1 sack. Another player to mention is Derrick Brown, someone who is continuing to improve every game. After the good strides he made against the Giants, he kept doing so against the Saints, ending up with an interception late in the third quarter. He is someone else on the Panthers, besides Shenault, who many people didn’t see could be a big factor for the team through this season. He has turned heads and is already putting in the work we have been eager to see. Jaycee Horn clenched a game winning interception as well and probably looked the best he has so far. He left Winston with a 0.0 passer rating when the ball was thrown his way and was only targeted twice in coverage. Horn didn’t allow a single pass completion, something he can hopefully bring to the table through the next upcoming games.
In everything beneficial our defense has to bring, they still hold themselves accountable for the work that needs to be done. Phil Snow has been given his credit in what he was able to pull off against New Orleans. In all, that was for sure a defensive win he pulled off.
Though there are still many questions that remain for this team, it all leads back to head coach Matt Rhule. Whether he will continue to stick around for a while, only time (and our playing) will tell, but I think as soon as this season is over, if he’s not gone already, he should be headed out. David Tepper needs to accept where he went wrong and find coaching that’s beneficial for what he can say is his namesake, but most importantly the state of the franchise. If the chemistry between Baker and the offense can be situated, whether that’s through communication on the field, or a weekend retreat deep in the mountains, and the defense that showed out can continue to do so, the Panthers could turn it around and perform well against the 1-2 Cardinals. It will also be the Keep Pounding game at home in Charlotte, commemorating the newest hall of famer Sam Mills. It’s one more thing to have the organization hyped for what’s to come next week, so instead of a “quiet” win, I believe Carolina will want the Bank to be rocking.
(i.e. Panthers Wire / USA Today)