The Carolina Panthers struggled to get anything going on offense against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carolina did not hold the lead once on their way to a 20-7 loss on Sunday, bringing the Panthers to 0-2 to start the season.
After Carolina and Tampa Bay combined for a total of 2 yards on their first drives of the day, the Buccaneers managed to drive down the field and score on a 14 yard touchdown reception from Josh Freeman to Earnest Graham. The Panthers answered two drives later when they marched 88 yards down the field and scored on a 37 yard strike from Matt Moore to Steve Smith. Tampa Bay scored on the very next drive on a 35 yard touchdown grab by Mike Williams for Josh Freeman’s second touchdown toss of the day. From that point on, the Buccaneers maintained control of the game and Carolina would fail to answer.
The Panthers had hoped to reignite the explosive running back tandem of last year against their first divisional foe of the season. They failed to do so as DeAngelo Williams was held to 54 yards on 17 carries, while Jonathan Stewart only managed 43 yards on 8 carries.
With the exception of the touchdown connection to Smith, Matt Moore failed to remain consistent as he went 6/16 for a lackluster 125 yards and an interception. The interception came early in the third quarter and was followed by a fumble two drives later, leading to Coach John Fox’s decision to put in 2nd round draft pick, Jimmy Clausen.
Clausen provided a brief spark for the Panthers as he drove the offense 78 yards down the field, only to fall short at the 2 yard line after turning the ball over on downs. Despite coming in during the fourth quarter, Clausen still contributed 59 yards, completing 7 of 13 passes and the offense seemed to be much more efficient under his lead rather than Moore’s. Clausen did have one interception, but it came with 29 seconds left as the Panthers were airing it out in an attempt for a last minute score.
Many fans have already deemed this year as a rebuilding year for Carolina. After shedding many experienced veterans from the squad during the offseason and deciding to build their team around the young talent they have acquired, that is an understandable thought process. But the best way to build talent and confidence in the youth on a football team is by remaining competitive and putting together a few wins during the rebuilding years. If the Panthers want to remain competitive, the offense is going to need to be able to produce and minimize the mistakes being made.