Grading Panthers vs. Saints: Bryce Young and crew have horrible outing as passing offense

Mike Kaye, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Football

NEW ORLEANS — The Panthers’ ineptitude reached new heights Sunday at Caesars Superdome, as the New Orleans Saints (6-7) defeated Carolina (1-12) in a listless 28-6 NFC South car wreck of a game.

With interim head coach Chris Tabor overseeing the product for a second consecutive game, the Panthers decided to be aggressive on offense, and time and time again, they paid for that approach with major letdowns. Despite the best efforts of the defense, Tabor’s special teams group and offensive coordinator Thomas Brown’s unit routinely came up empty.

Rookie quarterback Bryce Young completed just three passes in the first half as the Panthers went for an “air it out” approach. Young failed to connect with his weapons, and the strong performance of the run game was ultimately wasted by poor play-calling and execution from a passing standpoint. On special teams, punter Johnny Hekker fumbled, which led to a Saints touchdown, and kicker Eddy Piñeiro missed a 41-yard field goal.

The Panthers played from behind the entire game, and every time they created some momentum, another mishap cursed the unit to miserable returns. With four games to go, the Panthers still have plenty of room for embarrassment down the stretch.

Here is a look at how the Panthers graded out against the Saints:

Panthers’ rushing offense


Chuba Hubbard got off to an excellent start against New Orleans. Following up on last week’s 100-yard performance, Hubbard picked up 36 yards on his first nine carries, picking up three first downs in the process. Hubbard did a nice job on one-cut runs, making one man miss and putting his helmet down and powering forward. He was the anchor for the majority of the offense’s success early on.

The Panthers also got creative ahead of the snap with “pony” personnel, using speed backs, Miles Sanders and Raheem Blackshear, in concert to create some deception in the backfield. Pony personnel is used with two backs to create mismatches against the defense without spreading the field with receivers. The plays had limited success, but showed a desire to switch things up and break tendencies.

The Panthers finished the first half with 106 rushing yards, with 32 coming from Young on scrambles.

Sanders exploded for a 48-yard run to set up the Panthers’ second score of the afternoon. The former Philadelphia Eagles running back juked and cut through several defenders on his way to the 1-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. Unfortunately for Carolina, the Panthers could capitalize with a touchdown. Instead, they settled for a 29-yard field goal.


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