C3 Up, Three Down is a series that identifies three key areas the Panthers succeeded and three areas they failed in their most recent contest. This week's C3 Up, Three Down weeds through the good and bad of Carolina's loss to the Minnesota Vikings.
Three Things The Carolina Panthers Did Well
The Carolina Panthers went to Minnesota for an NFC matchup against the Vikings. The Panthers had a bye week and were supposed to be well rested. It was a much needed break, Cam Newton had some time to heal, and Mike Tolbert made his return.
This matchup looked promising. The Vikings were 4-7 and had a rookie quarterback behind center. Adrian Peterson is suspended for the year, so they were very limited on offense.
The Panthers lost this game 31-13 and it did not start or end well. It seemed like they were frozen partly because of the cold weather, and the lack of production on both sides of the ball. What three things did the Carolina Panthers do well week against the Minnesota Vikings?
Jonathan Stewart – I am a DeAngelo Williams fan, but it seems like every time Jonathan Stewart touches the ball he gets positive yardage. Williams is a more east and west guy, while Stewart is a north and south runner. Stewart’s ability allowed him to finish the day with 12 carries for 85 yards and he also had 25 receiving yards. The Panthers were finally successful with the run game by averaging 5.4 yards per carry and had a total of 33 attempts for 178 yards. Shout out to Cam Newton who ran for 49 yards.
“Philly” Brown – Who is Philly Brown? Philly is the Panthers kickoff/ punt returner. They finally gave him the opportunity to run some plays on offense. This move paid off last week with a 47 yard touchdown and it worked again this week with a 32 yard touchdown reception. The Panthers might have found a new slot receiver and deep threat.
Lukeness Monster – Luke Kuechly continues to show up for the Panthers each week. He is the leader on defense and he put it on display against the Vikings. Kuechly lead the Panthers with nine tackles and two sacks. Luke is tied for first in the NFL with 116 tackles, and continues to lead the way for the Panthers, and the rest of the league. He and the Panthers defense held the Vikings to only 210 yards on offense. What would this Panthers team do without their Pro Bowl middle linebacker?
Three Things the Panthers did Poorly
At this point of this season we should begin looking toward the future. On this roster there is some young talent and we should begin to let them play.
I was thinking coming into this game “yes we’re playing the Vikings” when in actuality it was the Vikings that were thinking “yes we’re playing the Panthers”. I was very surprised at how poorly the team played especially coming off a bye week. But then again the Panthers have never won a post bye week game under the Rivera regime. So here are 3 things I am down about after this week.
Byron Bell- The guy just does not have the physical ability to play tackle in this league. I really do feel for him. He had the hopes of an entire fan base placed on his shoulders and he has crumbled under it’s weight. He must be the first guy replaced either through the draft or through free agency.
Panthers Defense- There were some stand out players here but as a whole this group has been a major disappointment. The loss of the Kraken and the most of the starting secondary from last season wreaked havoc on what was the 2nd ranked defense last season. I kept hoping that at some point the unit would get itself together but this has not been the case this year.
Panthers Punt Team- I have seen 2 punts blocked in a game, but in my 40 almost 41 years of existence I don’t remember having both of those blocked punts returned for scores. That was it, those two plays set the tone for the rest of the game. Right away the Panthers were behind and with this anemic offense it was all but over.
I have already started looking to next season. But as I sit here and think about the potential moves we can/will make, I am afraid it may get worse before it gets better. But that will be a topic for another time.
By "that Freak'n Puerto Rican" aka @JoeRiollano