The only number that truly matters for the Carolina Panthers through their first nine games is "two", which unfortunately represents the total number of Carolina victories thus far.
It is hard to pinpoint any one reason to explain the Panthers' 2-7 record, but here are some of the numbers that shed light on why Carolina is struggling so badly this year.
33.3% - 3rd Down Conversions
The Panthers' offense has converted just 33.3% of its third down attempts, placing Carolina tied for 27th of 32 NFL teams.
To put the Panthers' 33.3% conversion rate in perspective, league leaders the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have both converted 49.6% of their opportunities.
On paper, Carolina seemingly has everything it needs to pick up first downs, including Cam Newton, two effective running backs, and Greg Olsen and Steve Smith in the passing game. Despite these weapons, Carolina has been terrible converting third downs, keeping points off the board and racking up losses along the way.
27:45 - Time of Possession
Not surprisingly, the Panthers' inability to extend drives by converting third downs has placed Carolina near the bottom of the league in time of possession.
Carolina's 27:45 average is 27th in the league, just above offensive juggernauts like the Tennessee Titans (27:27) and Jacksonville Jaguars (27:10).
18.1 - Points per Game
No third down conversions plus limited time of possession equals a measly 18.1 points per game from the offense.
Carolina's offensive output is also 27th in the NFL, a result that is offensive, indeed.
5.6 Yards per Return
One of the best ways to help a struggling offense is with an occasional big punt return to flip field position and pick up some cheap points.
But the Panthers are averaging just 5.6 yards per punt return on their 18 return attempts. Carolina is second-to-last in the NFL returning punts, barely edging out the Oakland Raiders' 5.5 yards per return.
As I wrote last year, the 2011 Panthers had some of the worst special team stats in the league, a trend that followed the team into 2012. Rookie Joe Adams was supposed to be a game-changer as a return man, but on the year he has five punt returns and three fumbled punts (two lost) before being relieved of his return duties.
But in the end the only numbers that matter for the Panthers and their fans are wins and losses.
With offensive and special teams stats near the bottom of the league, it is no surprise to see the Panthers' 2-7 record at the very bottom of the NFC.
Andrew Sweat is a die-hard Panthers fan. For more from this author, visit Andrew's archive or check out these articles:
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