Carolina Panthers' offensive line woes spark offensive miscues in 25-3 loss to New York Giants
There were no Carolina blue skies at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ for the Carolina Panthers matchup against the New York Giants. The last time the two teams met, Carolina was on the winning end and looking to keep it that way after a week of retooling.
The Panthers looked to establish the wide zone against the Giants as well as inch closer to establishing an identity for this season as the took on the New York Giants on Sunday. Brady Christensen got the start at left tackle.
Matt Rhule's strategy for getting them there wa by establishing a better rushing attack with at least 33 attempts. They did just that in their opening drive which included twelve plays - seven rushing and 4 passing. The Panthers also kept that drive going with a gutsy fourth and short yardage gamble that paid off. Darnold worked through his progressions well initially and the Panthers got on the board with a Zane Goonzalez field goal to cap the first drive.
Durning the Giants first two series the Tight Ends got a big share of the targets including Kyle Rudolph's touchdown that was overturned. The Giants continued that drive with a fourth and goal situation that saw the panthers defense made a huge stop at the goal line to force the turnover on downs.
But the Panthers second quarter attempt to go back to the passing game fell apart quickly when Sam Darnold, after being hit in the pocket, was called for intentional grounding on the 1-yard line resulting in a safety. Then late in the half, Sam Darnold's pass intended for Panthers' tight end Ian Thomas was intercepted by former Carolina Panther James Bradberry.
All five of the Giants' first half drives pentrated Panthers territory.
At the half, it was a score noone expected. The Panthers trailed the Giants 5-3. Reaching Rhule's goal to run the ball at least 33 times achieved less than half of that with 13 attempts for 39 yards.
The Panthers defense performed solidly and softened up Daniel Jones for even more harassment in the second half. Jeremy Chinn did just about everything you can imagine on the defensive side of the ball from pass defense to harrassing Daniel Jones.
The Panthers racked up five penalties for 22 yards in the first half.
In the second half, the Panthers tried to take things up a notch on defense and get to Daniel Jones early including a Derick Brown sack in the third quarter to force the Giants to punt. Brian Burns also had three tackles for loss before the end of the third quarter included a sack. But Daniels made several big plays including a first down reception on a reverse from Dante Pettis, a 7-yard scamper to help keep the drive going and finally a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pettis en route to a 12-3 Giants lead.
It was the same thing on the offensive side of the ball. Joe Brady started abandoning the run with only three rushing attempts in the quarter. None of the Panthers' drives resulted in a score in the third quarter. The offensive line, as it has been in the past three games, saw some setbacks with a John Miller ankle injury.
The Panthers shook things up in the fourth quarter bringing in PJ Walker who had his first pass batted down. He got mobile quickly but the offensive line failed to hold back the Giants pass rush for the speedier Walker as well.
The Giants scored twenty unanswered points in second half to go on to a 25-3 win. Former Panthers kicker, now on the Giants roster made all three of his attempts to help shut down the Panthers.
The panthers dropped to 3-4 while the Giants got their second win of the season. Hubbard had 12 carries for 28 yards for the Panthers. While DJ Morre led the receiving efforts and went 6-for-73.
So given the success of tight ends in offenses around league, the questions still remain about the lack of significant usage of tight ends in the Panthers if Brady is going to keep the air game as his go-to move. Colin Thompson was the only tight end targeted in the third quarter. Having that input would definitely be a plus in this struggling offense. But before any of that can help, the team has to seriously address the issues with personnel on the offensive line.
The Panther travel to Atlanta next week to take on the Falcons who clinch the 30-28 win over the Dolphins after a last second field goal.