It was Carolina’s first game since firing head coach Ron Rivera, but it didn’t amount to any positive change this week as the Panthers lost, 40-20, against the Atlanta Falcons.
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Despite being a bit thin along the offensive line this week due to injuries, the big men up front did a decent job keeping pressure off Matt Ryan and an even better job in the run game. Throughout the game, they created plenty of room for Devonta Freeman and Brian Hill, who averaged 5.6 yards per carry between them.
Wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus received the first two targets of his career and came away with the play of the game on his first career catch. He caught a deep post from Ryan, broke the tackle attempt by cornerback Donte Jackson and took it the rest of the way to the end zone for a 93-yard touchdown.
Vic Beasley Jr. had a monster game and forced fumbles on both of his sacks. Atlanta moved him around a decent amount, and he found some success against both tackles and, unsurprisingly, a tight end that was left to block him one-on-one.
De'Vondre Campbell was the Falcons' biggest liability in pass coverage. While he was in tight coverage once on a deep route, he was beaten deep another time, but the receiver dropped the pass. He also struggled mightily in space against Christian McCaffrey, who was able to pick up extra yards either around or through Campbell, who was literally dragged across the first down line when the tackle should have been made short of the sticks.
It was Carolina’s first game since firing head coach Ron Rivera, but it didn’t amount to any positive change this week. They turned the ball over four times, and the offense remained lackluster beyond Christian McCaffrey, who had 135 yards from scrimmage on his 13 touches and forced a few missed tackles in the receiving game.
It was another mixed bag for quarterback Kyle Allen, but once again, his good flashes were only to be outweighed by bad mistakes. He had two impressive deep throws in the first half down the sideline — one was dropped by Ian Thomas and bounced away for an interception. Still, Allen threw another interception that he forced into coverage, and he had another pick dropped as he misread the coverage on a short slant in the first half. He also fumbled twice on sacks, and while one was a blindside hit that you can’t really blame him for, the other was just poor ball security.
Unsurprisingly, Luke Kuechly continues to be the best player on the Panthers’ defense. He led the team in stops, allowed little in coverage and broke up a third-down pass in the contest.
The Panthers' defensive line just didn't take advantage of Atlanta needing to rotate offensive linemen throughout the game. They sacked Matt Ryan only once all game, and a handful of their pressured plays came on unblocked pressures due to design or overloads.