Three takeaways from Carolina Panthers’ 38-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers:
1. It’s time to try something different on defense.
The defensive lapses are no longer a hiccup. They’ve become a trend. Coordinator Sean McDermott can’t flip his scheme in Week 8, but he can try some different personnel. Cornerback Josh Norman was a healthy scratch because Ron Rivera said he didn’t get enough practice reps after his concussion. He needs to play. And it’s time for the Panthers to see what they have in rookie safety Tre Boston, the fourth-round pick from North Carolina who saw action late against the Packers.
2. The offensive line is not built to withstand injuries.
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With left guard Amini Silatolu already out, the Panthers lost two more starting offensive linemen when left tackle Byron Bell (elbow) and right guard Trai Turner (ankle) left with injuries. Replacing them were undrafted rookies Andrew Norwell and David Foucault, who struggled to protect Cam Newton’s blind side at left tackle. The Panthers can ill afford to get Newton hurt, yet the franchise quarterback took some hits late in the game behind the makeshift line.
3. The Panthers are still their own worst enemy.
It’s not just that the Panthers continue to commit penalties to extend opponents’ drives, it’s the type of penalties. With few exceptions, they’re not getting flagged for aggressive plays. In tennis, they’d be called unforced errors: Jumping offsides on two consecutive snaps on Green Bay’s first drive. Getting called for having too many men on the field for the third time this season. Luke Kuechly losing his cool and inadvertently throwing his arm at an official and getting ejected. The early flags set the tone for a long day for the defense.