It was a tough begin for the Panthers offense whilst the Browns running game churned out large yardage.
The Panthers kicked off the season with a hard 26-24 home loss against the Cleveland Browns, spoiling Baker Mayfield’s revenge game against his former team. Here are the 5 key stats explaining what contributed most to the Panthers Week 1 loss.
13 yards – Watching the newly configured Baker Mayfield-led offense discover its footing was like watching Bambi learning to stroll on ice. There were slips. There were stumbles. There were miscues. The Panthers first 19 offensive performs generated a paltry 13 complete yards. Carolina’s first 5 possessions consisted of three three-and-outs, one five-play pressure that was only extended due to a roughing the passer penalty, and an interception. Carolina’s offense sputtered early and produced simply seven points via three quarters.
34 yards – Early in the 2d quarter in a scoreless game the Browns had the ball facing third-and-3 from the Carolina 35, meaning a big quit by the Panthers defense would pressure a long field goal attempt. Jacoby Brissett floated an absolute moon ball to Amari Cooper in the end region that hung in the air greater like a punt than a pass. CJ Henderson panicked in coverage and flat out tackled Cooper in the give up zone, drawing a 34-yard omit interference penalty and negating a Xavier Woods interception. The penalty gave the Browns possession at the Carolina one yard line and Cleveland scored a touchdown on the next play to take a 7-0 lead. The Panthers defense had looked stable up to this factor but this 34-yard penalty was once a gift-wrapped rating for the Browns.
50 yards – The Panthers trailed 14-0 with 3:33 left in the first 1/2 with the ball at their own 48. As earlier noted, Carolina’s offense had been abysmal up to this factor and the boo birds were already chirping at Bank of America Stadium. It was at this bleak second when Baker Mayfield hit a totally uncovered Ian Thomas up the left seam for a 50-yard catch-and-run. Thomas was tackled at the Cleveland two yard line and set up a Christian McCaffrey landing on the next play. Ian’s big 50-yard reception breathed life into a wheezing Carolina offense and the Panthers were suddenly only down through one score.
102 yards – Robbie Anderson contributed 5 receptions for 102 yards, which includes a monster 75-yard landing in the fourth quarter to close the Panthers deficit to 23-21. Anderson caught 5 of his eight targets and was actively involved in the offense. The Panthers want this model of “good Robbie” to closing throughout the season. In 2020, Anderson’s first season with the Panthers, he put up borderline Pro Bowl numbers with 95 receptions for 1,096 yards. But last season he had just 53 receptions for 519 yards, plenty of drops, and just regarded disconnected from the offense for extended intervals of time. The Panthers want Robbie Anderson to rediscover his 1,000-plus yard potential, and Week 1 was promising.
4-of-4 – Cleveland’s rookie kicker, Cade York, made all 4 of his field goal tries in his NFL debut. The fourth round pick out of LSU hit from 26, 34, and 36 yards in the past in the game, however was then called upon to strive a game-winning (or losing) kick from 58 yards with 13 seconds left. Leading up to the kick, the Panthers scored 17 fourth quarter factors to take an improbable 24-23 lead with 1:17 left in the game. On the Browns last possession Brian Burns was once flagged for a fairly dubious 15-yard roughing the passer penalty. Jacoby Brissett’s next three passes advanced the ball another 20 yards to the Carolina forty to set York up for the strain kick. On a Sunday when a bunch of set up NFL veteran kickers missed easy game-winning field desires across the league, the Browns rookie sincerely drilled a 58-yard game winner towards the Panthers, however of direction he did. You can only tip your cap to York for his memorable coming out party.
*Bonus stat: 5.7 YPC – I’m throwing in a bonus sixth stat this week because we have to speak about the inability of the Panthers the front seven to cease the run. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt blended for 33 carries for 187 yards – an common of 5.7 yards per raise – as the Browns truly gashed the Panthers on the ground. It appears like the Panthers offense is going to be a work in progress for the next couple of games so Carolina’s defense will likely want to elevate the day. There’s no way that’s going to show up if they get persistently manhandled against the run like they were in Week 1.
The ordinary summary
This game turned out almost exactly as I idea it would. Here’s what I wrote final week when predicting the results of every of the Panthers games this year:
The Panthers have a lot of new faces on the offense and it’s going to take some time for them to gel. Myles Garret and Jadeveon Clowney maintain Baker Mayfield beneath pressure and rush him into two interceptions. Rookie left handle Ikem Ekwonu receives beat several times but learns some treasured lessons. The Browns rely on their running game and gradually put on down the Panthers protecting line as Cleveland wins a low-scoring boxing match.
Okay, so Baker solely had one interception instead of two, but it’s not surprising that the offense struggled early. The offense should get higher from here though there are still some huge red flags. First, there are zero playmakers outside of Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, and Robbie Anderson, assuming he continues playing like “Good Robbie”. The Panthers have possibly the weakest tight stop unit in the league (no disrespect to Ian Thomas however his 50-yard seize was the result of damaged coverage) and nobody appears to favor to declare the No. three receiver spot.
Defensively the Panthers secondary seemed pretty good but, as previously mentioned, the the front seven bought manhandled in the run game. They also solely managed one sack and 4 quarterback hits on 34 Jacoby Brissett passes. Outside of Brian Burns the Panthers shielding line lacks each nice and depth so this possibly won’t be the final time Carolina gets labored on the ground.
At 0-1 the Panthers now head to New York to take on a Giants group that pretty beat the Tennessee Titans on the street in Week 1.