Why the Carolina Panthers Need to Bench Torrey Smith

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Torrey Smith
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 16: Torrey Smith #11 of the Carolina Panthers warms up prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 16, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

This past off-season, the Carolina Panthers traded their former starting cornerback, Daryl Worley, to the Philadelphia Eagles for veteran receiver Torrey Smith. At the time, the trade came as a bit of a surprise, but it looked like the Panthers had won the deal once the legal troubles of Worley came about. Smith was not the explosive wide receivers he once was, but the eight-year veteran was ideally supposed to bring leadership and a deep threat presence the team had not had since Ted Ginn Jr. Through four games, Smith has not contributed much to the offense and it is time for the Panthers to give their younger wideouts more snaps.

Why the Carolina Panthers Should Play D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel Over Torrey Smith

Torrey Smith Versus Father Time

Smith is only 29 years old, but it has become very clear he has lost a few steps these past two seasons. The two-time Super Bowl champion is coming off two of his lowest producing seasons in back-to-back years. In 2016 with the San Francisco 49ers, Smith posted a career-low 20 receptions and finished with only 267 receiving yards. As a member of the Eagles last year, Smith saw a slight increase in playing time and finished the year with 36 receptions and 430 receiving yards.

While his numbers were down, he still managed to average over 11 yards per reception both years which means he was still getting open down the field and stretching the defense. Panthers fans may have not expected a 40+ reception season from Smith, but they figured he would open things up for quarterback Cam Newton on plays like this.

Through the Panthers first four games, Smith has compiled only seven receptions on 13 targets, for 67 yards and one touchdown. He is averaging only 9.6 yards per reception, which is on pace to be the lowest of his career. Pro Football Focus has Smith ranked as the 114th best wide receiver this season, which isn’t good considering he is seeing the second most snaps of the position group (64 percent). He leads the team with two drops and is coming off a poor effort recording zero receptions on 46 snaps versus the New York Giants. It’s safe to say that Smith has not been the receiver the Panthers were hoping for.

Mo(o)re of D.J Please

The Panthers drafted the electrifying wide receiver D.J. Moore this past off-season and he received a lot of praise during training camp from his coaches and those around him. Moore shined during the first preseason game against the Buffalo Bills and displayed his capability of making plays in the open field.

Despite the high ceiling, the Panthers have used the rookie very sparingly this season. In the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, Moore saw zero targets and only touched the ball on a handoff and one punt return. The following two weeks, Newton connected with the rookie for only two receptions, one of which was this 51-yard touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons.

Carolina decided to get the rookie more touches versus the Giants and Moore hauled in four passes and ran a reverse for an 18-yard gain. Still, the numbers could have been much higher for the rookie, who only saw 29 snaps this past week. In far less playing time, Moore has outproduced Smith on the field. The first-round pick has six receptions on eight targets, 103 receiving yards, and one touchdown. For an offense that has looked very flat at times this year, the Panthers will benefit by giving Moore more playing time.

Curtis Samuel Is Back

The Panthers have another young option at wide receiver thanks to the return of Curtis Samuel last week. The former second-round pick settled into a groove during the tail end of last season, but a foot injury cut his year short. His return was highly anticipated but another injury sidelined him for the first four weeks of 2018. Samuel was finally able to hit the field Sunday versus the Giants and he picked up right where he left. He made a remarkable effort breaking five tackles on his way to scoring the first touchdown of his career.

Of course with Samuel, the concern for injury was the reason he only saw 12 snaps last game. But as he gets healthier, he should see more playing time over Smith. Samuel has developed chemistry quickly with Newton and should help this offense get back on its feet going forward.

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