4 takeaways from the Panthers’ 25-3 loss to Giants

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We hate to say we told you so, but the Carolina Panthers are stuck in quarterback purgatory. That couldn’t be more evident after the latest performance they got under center in the 25-3 loss to the New York Giants.

Here are four takeaways, including that painful realization, from the team’s disgraceful Week 7 defeat.

The coaching staff can't trust Sam Darnold

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

Coming off last Sunday’s loss to the Minnesota Vikings, head coach Matt Rhule stepped right into the fresh week pushing the idea of a new offensive identity. That identity, quite clearly, is not allowing Darnold’s mistakes to define them.

Along with wanting to establish the run more often, the Panthers showed they’ve lost trust in their quarterback with their early play-calling in Week 7. Much of Darnold’s throws were scripted, quick hitters that are, obviously, designed to take much of the mental work out of the game.

While following a script through the first handful of possessions is, often, the case, it’s still clear Carolina can’t trust Darnold to process longer developing plays. It’s something he struggled with in New York and is something he’s still struggled with here.

He provided us with a fine example of that on his first-half pick. Darnold wasted a clean pocket to throw to . . . well, we’re not sure who, but it ended up with former Panther James Bradberry.

Plus, Darnold’s protection on the day was, for the most part, good considering the circumstances. Yet, he still has problems keeping his feet under him and giving his receivers better chances with more accurate balls.

The defense also can't trust Sam Darnold

AP Photo/Seth Wenig

For the third straight week, the Carolina defense kept getting thrown behind the eight ball by Darnold and the offense. The unit’s inability to move the ball, let alone score some actual points, has continued to take body shots to their comrades.

Luckily for Carolina, the touches would result in only three points, but three of the Giants’ first four possessions began on their own 41, 37 and 38-yard lines. Conversely, three of the Panthers’ first four possessions began on their own 12, 2 and 16.

And that’s just a microcosm of this domino effect. Darnold continues to crumble, whether he’s under pressure or not. In fact, he was charged with an intentional grounding in the end zone (resulting in a safety) a week after trying to call multiple timeouts on the same snap.

His lack of composure, touch and pocket presence has affected more than just his game, as the defense can’t be expected to hold opposing offenses down—no matter who they are—all afternoon. Perhaps they allowed a few more chunk plays than they had hoped, but Phil Snow’s group is far from the most concerning part of this downward spiral.

The offense is still looking for that identity

AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman

Rhule’s aforementioned desire to be more effective in the run game wasn’t fulfilled.

The Panthers rushed for a total of 56 yards on 17 attempts in Week 7. That output is even worse to swallow when remembering that the Giants came in with the fourth-worst run defense in football.

Chuba Hubbard, largely to no fault of his own, was bottled up for 28 yards on 12 tries. A patched-together offensive line simply couldn’t create enough space for the rookie to work with.

Despite Hubbard’s overall success this season, it’s apparent the Carolina offense won’t go much of anywhere without its star in Christian McCaffrey. His ability to affect the game, whether he has the ball or not, is sorely missed.

There has to be a change

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Considering today’s circumstances—with the 1-5 Giants being 0-3 at home and without a handful of their very top contributors on offense—this loss may be the most embarrassing one for this franchise in quite some time.

A mostly uninspired effort featured a frantic showing by its quarterback, a lifeless vibe from its receivers and a defense that tried until they couldn’t try anymore. To put it simply, they were at the mercy of an absolute dumpster fire of a football product.

Well, they too have turned into one of those fires. After starting the season at an exciting 3-0 mark, the Panthers are now suddenly all by themselves in the NFC South basement at 3-4.

Something has to change.

Will it be a move along the coaching ranks? A kick in the butt from their determined owner? Or, perhaps, could it be something with drastic and dramatic repercussions . . . ?

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