A long and largely grueling Monday night, at the expense of both the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, ended in an 0-2 start to the season for the latter NFC South crew. And with that mark has come a painful and obvious sticking point—the Panthers are simply outclassed with their playmakers.
Although their Week 2 matchup was close throughout and ended as a one-score game, one team seemed a bit ahead on offense. The fact that New Orleans was able to get some juice out of wideouts Chris Olave and Michael Thomas, as well as Swiss Army knife Taysom Hill, proved to be the difference between the rivals.
Meanwhile, Carolina and rookie quarterback Bryce Young were borderline unwatchable through 57 minutes of game time. That can be attributed to a few factors—especially for a rebuilding squad—but the prevalent theme of the unit has been its lack of separation from its receivers.
Often times, Young struggled to find an open target—which, similarly to their loss in Atlanta, allowed the Saints defense to cheat, stack the box and snuff out the run. The 2023 No. 1 selection ended his home debut averaging just 4.6 yards per attempt and couldn’t help get one of his pass catchers to the 60-yard mark.
The one who got closest was Adam Thielen, who reeled in 54 yards and a touchdown off seven grabs. But it’s clear, even in a somewhat admirable effort, that the 33-year-old is more of a complementary piece than a dominant playmaker at this point in his career.
Young’s top deep threat, DJ Chark, was almost cancelled out—registering just one catch for 15 yards. Second-round pick Jonathan Mingo also committed a few rookie mistakes that proved a tad costly. Oh, and Terrace Marshall Jr. recorded zero targets over 22 offensive snaps.
This does not seem like an easy solution to fix—and if you’ve been following the Panthers for the last decade or so, you’d know that. But if at least one of Young’s receivers doesn’t step up soon, general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Frank Reich may have to go outside of the roster to find one who will.
Otherwise, they may be beginning to sidetrack the start of another first overall pick’s career.