Instant analysis from the Carolina Panthers’ 34-13 loss to New Orleans.
Can Panthers win with Cam and the new normal?
The Panthers are trying to nurse Cam Newton through a sore shoulder, and it’s not working.
Newton threw three interceptions and seldom threw downfield during a disspiriting loss to New Orleans. Newton completed 17 of 26 passes for 167 yards, and finished with a 43.8 passer rating, the third-lowest of his career.
Never miss a local story.
Newton had one good drive in the third quarter when he overcame an early sack to complete four consecutive passes, then capped the march with a 3-yard touchdown run. And that marked the start and end of Newton’s highlights.
Granted, Newton was playing without Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil and Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, then lost No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a knee injury in the first half.
Still, the Panthers’ new-look offense isn’t producing with its sore-armed QB.
Time to pump the brakes on the defense.
After the Panthers throttled Buffalo last week, Julius Peppers said this was the best defense he’d been a part of.
In their first true test of the season, Carolina’s defense was shredded by Drew Brees, who completed 22 of 29 passes for 220 yards and three TDs.
Brees and Michael Thomas kept finding holes in the Panthers’ zone coverage, and Carolina never seemed to adjust. It didn’t help that the front four got little pressure on Brees, who was sacked only once on the day.
Sunday’s game was the start of a three-game stretch vs. high-powered offense for the Panthers. Next up: New England and Detroit.
What was Ron Rivera thinking?
It probably wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the game, but Rivera’s decision to punt on fourth-and-5 from the Saints’ 35 was a head-scratcher.
The Panthers trailed by 18 midway through the third quarter when their drive stalled. Rivera had three choices: Let Graham Gano try a 53-yard field goal, go for it or punt.
The Saints gave Rivera a mulligan by calling a timeout before Michael Palardy got off his punt. It didn’t change Rivera’s mind, and some of the loudest boos followed when Palardy’s next (official) punt sailed deep into the end zone, resulting in a net of 15 yards.