Up 16 points at the half and getting the ball to start the third quarter, it looked like Carolina was on the precipice of blowing out the New York Jets. However, Carolina’s first play to start the quarter was an errant pass that showed neither Sam Darnold nor Robby Anderson were on the same page. The rest of the quarter be a story of 3 and outs, missed opportunities, and kerfuffles for the Panthers that equated to a mere 24 yards of total offense. Carolina’s 3rd-quarter offensive miscues led to the Jets’ first points mainly because their up-tempo offense capitalized on a quickly tiring Panthers defense.
Sam Darnold is having himself a day against his former team.
▫️ 235 yards
▫️ 2 TD (one passing, one rushing)
▫️ 125 QB rating
Panthers lead the Jets 16-0 at the half.
📚 https://t.co/bfbI2ji5q6 pic.twitter.com/POhjgv2HAf
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 12, 2021
Why did the momentum shift in the 3rd quarter, and who is to blame? Everyone from the coaching staff to the quarterback to the offensive line contributed to the Panthers’ lackluster quarter. Of course, it didn’t help that Robert Saleh riled up that Jets’ defense, calling for more pressure and intensity, and it seemingly worked more than whatever message Rhule delivered to the Panthers locker room.
Darnold opened the half with a bizarre throw to on the seem while Anderson ran towards the sideline. Matt Rhule described this as an “error,” one that epitomized a quarter of “miscommunication and missed-assignments that just carried forwards.” There were a few opportunities that Carolina nearly connected, particularly another downfield throw to Anderson that was just a hair ahead of the speedy wideout. Nothing looked crisp about the Panthers’ second half, and Rhule would even comment that for the defense to have look that stout and then to give up touchdowns in the 4th quarter “is not something we want to do.”
Carolina’s lack of offense against a bad Jets defense bothered Panthers fans, and as they looked for answers to momentum loss, many trained their eye on offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Fans wanted to see Carolina step on the gas, not walk out of the locker room in a sloppy-overconfident daze. Fortunately, Carolina was able to run the ball effectively in the 4th quarter, which gave the defense a moment to recharge the pass-rush. Rhule later commented that “it was good to win a game, but to also come away saying there are a lot of things we can improve and need to improve.”
Improvement needs to come in redzone situations and finding a way to step on opponents’ throats rather than letting them hang around late in games. There was much to be pleased with by Carolina’s opening win, but the 3rd quarter meltdown ruined their momentum and shrouded their victory with concern. Redzone efficiency, offensive explosiveness, and that killer instinct must improve and will need to improve against a Saints team that crushed the Green Bay Packers last week.
By Tony Dunn
Follow @Cat_Chronicles for the latest Panthers news and opinions from the fan perspective.
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