CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - If you re-watch the game between the Panthers and the Washington Redskins, "close" is only plausible when it comes to the fourth quarter. There are a lot of plays the Panthers should take back from Sunday’s game, and some are listed here. These are the four biggest takeaways from the 23-17 loss. Brace yourself, Carolina-- we’re going in.
ARE RIVERA AND TURNER ON THE SAME PAGE?
One of the biggest issues in this game was the questionable play calling at the end. Head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Norv Turner took two deep shots to opposite sidelines-- one to Funchess that was well covered, the other to Jarius Wright, that was thrown poorly.
Both times the Panthers just needed five yards and had two timeouts.
Offense shied away from running the entire game. Why not try a swing or flat route to gain the first, giving you more options? I find it hard to believe that Ron Rivera would have agreed or signed off on those plays.
There have been questions about play calling as of late. In week five’s win over the New York Giants there were a number of plays that showed how risky this offense has gotten.
Turner has been in this league a long time and is respected by thousands in the NFL circle of coaches. He has full control of the offense, but I just question-- does Rivera need to pull an override late in these games?
TOP TIER RUN GAME GOES M.I.A.
Going into the game against Washington, the Panthers were in the top five of most rushing stats. While we’re all for throwing off an opponent, Sunday’s game plan was questionable at best.
Christian McCaffrey had eight rushing attempts total, four of which were in the first quarter. Cam Newton had nine and was the team’s top rusher at 43 yards. CJ Anderson lined up for one snap the entire game and didn’t touch the ball. For a team that has been moving the ball so well on the ground, why stop?
The biggest question mark going into the season was the offensive line, and their playing with poise. McCaffrey has been running between the blocks effectively this season because of this rag tag line-- he's gotten better every game, but his growth was stunted by the lack of run plays.
DJ MOORE GETS A LEARNING OPPORTUNITY, WORDS OF WISDOM
Yeah kid, you had a tough one. DJ Moore had two fumbles that cost the Panthers big time on Sunday. Although, one thing I’ve learned about Moore so far, is that he’s a tough kid.
Earlier in the season we were talking about how we wanted to see more of DJ. That turned into how we needed to see more with the reps he got.
DJ is now five games in and is about to learn a very important lesson: Amnesia is good thing in this league.
You take away those two fumbles, and his numbers show he had an alright game. Four catches for 59 yards, plus one rush for another 18.
He blocked well in other situations when the Panthers actually showed they wanted to run the ball, and Greg Olsen had some words of wisdom for the rookie out of Maryland: "The only guys that don't make mistakes are the ones who don't play."
Ron Rivera said he’s wanted to put more on Moore’s plate. Now isn’t the time to take the foot off the gas pedal with that thinking. Let the kid learn from the rough day and watch him flourish.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOT SO SPECIAL
Remember last week when we were talking about how amazing it was to see the special teams get introduced out of the tunnel? Then they had that amazing game with a fumble recovery for a touchdown, Michael Palardy yet again pinning teams inside their own 20, and of course Graham Gano’s record setting field goal to win it? Ah, memories.
Now for the nightmare that was special teams. Obviously we had DJ Moore on his punt return. Then you have multiple penalties on non-returns that left your back against the wall. Then the impossible happened-- Gano missed an extra point.
Is there cause for concern? A little. Gano will be fine. Reminder: He missed three extra points last year and still had the best kicking season of his life. Special teams coordinator Chase Blackburn will have to get his troops in check and teach them a little discipline.
Donte Jackson nearly had an episode when a punt almost hit his leg. There isn’t a need to touch the panic button but the special teams on Sunday did not help an already lackluster game plan.