The Carolina Panthers are 1-8 and tied for the worst winning percentage in the league. Their struggles are in all phases, and they’re failing to make anything happen with a new head coach and quarterback.
The team is coming off a 16-13 “Thursday Night Football” loss to the Chicago Bears, who were 2-7 entering the contest.
Former No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young went 21 of 38 for 185 passing yards with no touchdowns. The Panthers had just 12 first downs compared to the Bears’ 21. Carolina went 3-for-15 on third downs, allowed three sacks, had just 43 rushing yards and only entered the red zone once.
Its special teams scored a touchdown, which was more than the offense could say.
Wide receiver Adam Thielen was candid about the struggles, saying the offense has not been able to manufacture big plays in any way, going so far as to say he was embarrassed about their performance.
“We’re just not hitting on all cylinders right now. We’re not hitting on any cylinders,” Thielen said (via the team’s official website). “It’s an embarrassing effort. I think everyone’s just embarrassed, you know, put up what, six points on offense.”
Thielen suggested that it was not fair to the defense, who was playing at a higher level.
“Like, we didn’t do anything. That’s embarrassing when your defense is playing the way they’re playing, especially the way they’re playing. It’s embarrassing. And like we talked about, we’re putting in good practices. We’re doing the right things; building the momentum that way, but it’s just not translating. That’s tough.”
Young admitted that he needs to improve in order to help the team win. The rookie has eight touchdowns and seven interceptions so far this season and ranks 31st out of 32 quarterbacks in ESPN’s total QBR rating.
“First and foremost, I have to be a lot better. We have to be better. It’s frustrating, it’s very frustrating,” Young said. “And that’s not me, that’s not just me, that’s everyone. We’re competitors, and losing is frustrating. It’s fresh, you feel it, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to turn the page.
While understandably a 1-8 start is not ideal, Young is intentional about not letting it impact him from game-to-game.
“Being frustrated, however you feel, it’s not going to win you a game, it’s not going to help,” Young continued. “You have to turn that and use that in action throughout the week, and then we have to translate it to Sunday or Thursday tonight, whatever. We have to translate it.”
Head coach Frank Reich has remained confident in his QB, even saying during the broadcast that Young has ice in his veins.
“No, I’m not worried about Bryce’s confidence,” Reich said. “I think he’s mentally tougher than a lot of rookie quarterbacks. I mean, for a rookie quarterback, considering the start we’ve had, I don’t think I see any retreat in him. I don’t. I see aggressiveness. I see resolve. I see determination, and I feel like he’s taking ownership of it and he’s taking probably more ownership of it than he should.”
The first-year Panthers coach said while he and Young may take a lot of the blame for the losses, it’s the entire team that needs to step up. The Panthers certainly have more to work on than just Young, even if he is not playing up to expectations.
Reich said it is “a group effort, but the quarterback and head coach are always going to be at the center. That’s just the way it is.”
Considering how much attention Young’s blunders have received, Reich feels the young player is handling it all well.
“It’s just a credit to him for taking responsibility for the whole offense when, in fact, it’s not just him. Can he be better? Sure. Can I be better? Absolutely. Can we all be better on offense, 100%, for sure.”
Carolina will look to avoid going 1-9 when it hosts the Dallas Cowboys in Week 11.