Panthers face massive decisions, starting with coach, QB

Published:Mar 9, 202418:20
Panthers face massive decisions, starting with coach, QB

A variety of Carolina's beautiful resurgence to go 6-6 beneath interim coach Steve Wilks was credited to a dominant working assault, nonetheless the Panthers safety moreover deserves credit score rating for its operate in wins like Sunday's 10-7 victory over the Saints.

Carolina (7-10) held the Saints to 72 yards of offense and 0 elements inside the second half, this after a second quarter by which three New Orleans drives went properly into Carolina territory nonetheless bought right here up empty on a missed space goal, a turnover on downs and a Chris Olave fumble merely sooner than halftime.

"For these guys to circle the wagon and as quickly as as soon as extra uncover a method to come back out and win a soccer sport is awfully spectacular," Wilks acknowledged Sunday. "We obtained our remaining sport at home in entrance of our followers, and we obtained our remaining sport of the yr on the freeway. [There's] masses to assemble on transferring forward. As soon as extra, couldn't be so happy with the lads in that locker room."

The Panthers obtained Sunday with out Skilled Bowl pass-rusher Brian Burns, who was inactive with hurt, and with out starting defensive cope with Matt Ioannidis, moreover injured, and a secondary depleted enough that Josh Norman, 35, carried out every snap as a practice-squad elevation. The safety has confronted adversity all season, with defensive coordinator Phil Snow fired along with head coach Matt Rhule after 5 video video games, and interim coordinator Al Holcomb taking up as part of Wilks' workers. Of the Panthers' seven wins this season, 5 bought right here in video video games by which they held their opponent to fifteen elements or fewer.

Carolina obtained with out quite a bit offense Sunday, as quarterback Sam Darnold completed merely 5 passes for 43 yards, and essential rusher D'Onta Foreman was ejected inside the third quarter for getting and promoting punches with Saints pass-rusher Marcus Davenport. When Darnold threw an interception with beneath two minutes left, the Saints have been on the Carolina 35, in place to win the game with a space goal.

The Panthers safety stepped up, nonetheless, and the Saints misplaced two yards on two working performs, then missed on a throw to Olave, establishing an prolonged field-goal attempt for Wil Lutz. Cornerback CJ Henderson purchased a hand on the kick for a partial block, and that defensive stand organize Carolina's remaining drive and a profitable space goal by Eddy Pineiro as time expired.

Eddy Pineiro drills a 42-yard space goal as time expires

Eddy Pineiro drills a 42-yard field goal as time expires

The Panthers bought right here from behind and purchased the walk-off win in direction of the Saints in Week 18. Eddy Pineiro kicked a 42-yard space goal as time expired.

The NFC South was intently packed enough that the Panthers accomplished one sport out of first and as well as shared the worst doc inside the division. They formally accomplished second inside the South, due to a 4-2 division doc, and that gives them a second-place schedule subsequent season, which suggests three troublesome video video games in direction of completely different division runner-ups who all made the playoffs: at home in direction of the Cowboys and on the freeway on the Seahawks and Dolphins. 

Carolina's first offseason priority is deciding whether or not or to not make Wilks the eternal head coach or make an outside lease. Wilks will be strongly thought-about, though workforce proprietor David Tepper has already had a dialog with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, suggesting that the group will be daring in evaluating completely different candidates as properly. The Panthers opened the season 2-7, nonetheless obtained 5 of their remaining eight video video games to stay in rivalry for a division title up until remaining week's freeway loss to the Bucs.

The Panthers might have the No. 9 complete select inside the draft, and the extra picks acquired from the 49ers inside the Christian McCaffrey deal — along with San Francisco's second-, third- and fourth-round picks on this draft — may help within the occasion that they search to commerce up for one in every of many prime quarterbacks on this class. Carolina may moreover convey once more Darnold, a free agent, who went 4-2 as starter with modest manufacturing, throwing seven touchdowns in direction of three interceptions.

"Hear, that's the NFL. Every workforce goes by the use of masses," Darnold acknowledged after Sunday's sport. "Nevertheless for us, one of the simplest ways we battled by the use of what has occurred this yr, I am merely truly happy with the fellows. I assumed Coach Wilks did a perfect job getting us ready for this sport. As soon as extra, it wasn't pretty at cases, nonetheless we purchased it completed."

Panthers QB Sam Darnold on remaining win of the season

Panthers QB Sam Darnold on final win of the season

FOX Sports activities actions' Megan Olivi catches up with Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold after their 10-7 win over the Saints.

Carolina ought to resolve how quite a bit it's eager to spend to convey once more Foreman, a shock star with 915 dashing yards, most after the McCaffrey commerce, with Chuba Hubbard moreover dashing properly behind an improved offensive line. The Panthers shouldn't have good salary-cap flexibility nonetheless should be able to maintain their best free brokers as they need.

Very like for Darnold, Sunday might need been the highest of Wilks' time with Carolina, nonetheless a hard-fought, all-around workforce win was one factor to have an excellent time as a constructive end to a hard season.

"I merely assume it was profound, the character in that locker room, how these guys pulled and bought right here collectively for one another," Wilks acknowledged. "It is not about me. It's about these males in that locker room. It's about this group, the educating workers, help workers. Everybody pulled collectively this yr to endure your complete points that we wanted to bear. It is not merely me. So, I merely commend all folks on this group for one of the simplest ways we merely rallied and pulled collectively."

Excessive tales from FOX Sports activities actions:

Greg Auman is FOX Sports activities actions’ NFC South reporter, defending the Buccaneers, Falcons, Panthers and Saints. He is in his tenth season defending the Bucs and the NFL full-time, having frolicked on the Tampa Bay Events and The Athletic. You'll observe him on Twitter at @gregauman.

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Publish date: 2023-01-10 18:50:18
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