The Carolina Panthers had a lackluster performance Sunday against their NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons, losing 31-24. After a very stout defensive showing in week one, the Panthers played three-quarters of bad defense putting the offense in a much bigger hole. Very few things went the Panthers way in week two, so expect to see a lot of players’ stocks fall following the Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons Week Two matchup.
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons: Hot and Cold Rankings
It has been a struggle to get the run game going this year, but McCaffrey is doing more than expected in the offense’s passing game. The Panthers offense features a lot of short routes, screens, and dump-offs and McCaffrey is the biggest benefactor. He hauled in 14 receptions for 102 yards on 15 targets. McCaffrey did a wonderful job fighting for yards after the catch and made some shifty moves in the open field. He also contributed 37 yards on the ground, finishing the game with 139 all-purpose yards. McCaffrey has been an excellent security blanket for Cam Newton and will need to do so with Greg Olsen injured.
Heat level: Boiling Water
Wright has emerged as one of the Panthers best receivers through two weeks and continued to display why he was a valuable signing against the Falcons. He finished the game with five receptions, 62 receiving yards and one touchdown on seven targets. Not stellar numbers, but when you compare that to what the other receiving targets did on Sunday, it stands out. Wright was able to get open consistently and made a lot of tough catches in traffic including this nice touchdown grab.
QB1 throwing dimes 😎 pic.twitter.com/zjheEIkZjn
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 16, 2018
Heat level: A fresh hot pocket right out of the microwave
The biggest question for the Panthers quarterback entering this season was how new offensive coordinator Norv Turner going to improve Newton’s ability as a passer. So far, Newton has answered the call and has a completion percentage of 69% through two games. The former MVP did nearly everything you could ask from your starter. He looked poised in the pocket, scrambled to buy more time, ran the ball when he needed to and wound up with 335 passing yards, 42 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the loss. His was one interception was at the fault of CJ Anderson, who tipped a catchable ball up in the air for Ricardo Allen to pick off. Newton, who went 32-45, also was let down by his receiving corps as drops were a serious issue in Sunday’s game. Nonetheless, Newton looked sharp and balled out in the loss to Atlanta.
Heat level: Lava
Ian Thomas looked great during much of the preseason and had big shoes to fill when Olsen went down with an injury. With the injury to Falcons safety Keanu Neal, the tight end position should have had the opportunity to thrive in Carolina’s offense. However, the rookie tight end could not get it going Sunday versus the Falcons. Thomas was targeted only three times and hauled in two receptions for 10 yards. He dropped one key pass from Newton that would have been a touchdown. Thomas will need to bounce back next week versus the Cincinnati Bengals.
Freezing Level: The Arctic Ocean
The Pass Rush:
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had all the time in the world to throw a pass on Sunday. Carolina struggled to create pressure on Ryan and recorded zero sacks in the game. Mario Addison, Julius Peppers, Kawann Short and Wes Horton all looked gassed when trying to get after the quarterback. Even when the Panthers sent a blitz, they had little success in forcing Ryan to get the ball out of his hands quicker than he wanted to. Without a pass rush, the Panthers secondary got picked apart and going forward the defense is going to need to create more pressure.
Freezing Level: Pluto
The scariest moment of the game is when Newton scrambled on fourth down, slid and then took a vicious shot to the head area by Falcons safety Damontae Kazee in the second quarter. Newton executed a clean slide with plenty of time, yet Kazee flew in late, lowered his helmet and attempted to spear the quarterback’s head off. Rivalry or not, there is no room for plays like that in today’s NFL. Kazee was rightfully ejected from the game and should see a large fine, potentially a suspension.
Freezing Level: Absolute Zero
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