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Despite two consecutive losses between Weeks 4 and 5, the Carolina Panthers didn’t lose much, if any, respect amongst power rankers across the sport. Well, how about now?
Let’s see what the Panthers’ ugly 34-28 loss to the Minnesota Vikings did to their reputation this time around.
Author: Nate Davis
Rank: 15 (-3)
Author’s take: “After allowing 573 yards over the first three weeks, Carolina’s defense got torched for 571 by Minnesota on Sunday.”
Author: Nick Wojton
Rank: 19 (-2)
Author’s take: “The dropped passes were brutal for quarterback Sam Darnold. The Panthers receivers need to figure that out, especially for a team that felt like trading for a couple of defender were the smart moves in recent weeks.
Again, getting back running back Christian McCaffrey will help. Although, he wouldn’t have been responsible for allowing the Vikings’ late comeback in an overtime loss.”
Author: Dan Hanzus
Rank: 19 (-5)
Author’s take: “The Panthers appear to have a Sam Darnold problem. Darnold showed promise during Carolina’s 3-0 start, but the absence of Christian McCaffrey has coincided with an extended stretch of rough play by the fourth-year QB. Darnold deserves credit for leading the Panthers to 11 unanswered points to force overtime in Sunday’s loss to the Vikings, but he was deeply ineffective before those final two drives. Darnold threw an interception, lost a fumble and didn’t cross 100 yards passing until the 6:30 mark of the fourth quarter. On Monday, Matt Rhule acknowledged Darnold needed to be better and declared the Panthers’ days as an air-it-out offense are over. “We’re going to redefine who we are,” he said. “That’s the only way we can win.” Yikes.”
Author: David Newton
Rank: 17 (-5)
Author’s take: “Injuries are an easy excuse for when things go bad, but they really are a factor in Carolina going from 3-0 to 3-3. Statistics show how drastically the loss of running back Christian McCaffrey has impacted quarterback Sam Darnold and the offense. But equally as big to the defense was losing cornerback Jaycee Horn and linebacker Shaq Thompson. They are two first-round picks who play a big role and aren’t easily replaceable. The sack and pressure numbers have suffered greatly without them. Without the three players mentioned here, the confidence rating should be lower than I have it.”
Our final take:
The Panthers are down and they’re down pretty bad. Not only, of course, are they looking down the barrel of what’s becoming a lengthy losing streak, but they’re also dealing with numerous injuries and ongoing identity issues.
Their loss to the Dallas Cowboys wasn’t awful. That team is very much legit. But their defeats to the Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings, and how they were defeated in them, should raise great concern moving forward.