Bryce Young takes blame as Carolina’s offense sputters again in 16-13 loss to Chicago
CHICAGO (AP) — Bryce Young repeatedly said he needed to play better. Carolina coach Frank Reich said he needed to do a better job. It was the same message from Chuba Hubbard and Terrace Marshall.
Following another anemic offensive performance, it’s clear the Panthers know their offense isn’t playing well enough to win. But still, nothing has changed.
Carolina was shut down by Chicago in a 16-13 loss Thursday night, finishing with a season-low 213 yards and 12 first downs. The Panthers went 3 for 15 on third down and failed to score an offensive touchdown for the second time in the first nine games this season.
“It’s not just (Young). Can he be better? Sure. Can I be better? Absolutely,” said Reich, a former NFL quarterback. “Can we all be better on offense? One-hundred percent, for sure.”
After throwing three interceptions Sunday in a 27-13 loss to Indianapolis, including two that were returned by Kenny Moore for touchdowns, Young did not turn the ball over. But he passed for just 185 yards and was sacked three times.
Eddy Pineiro kicked a 33-yard field goal in the second quarter and a 39-yarder in the fourth, but that was it for Carolina’s offense. The Panthers (1-8) scored their only touchdown of the game on Ihmir Smith-Marsette’s 79-yard punt return in the first quarter.
“We’re all frustrated,” said Young, who was 21-of-38 passing. “It’s a frustrating situation to be in. It’s not who we are, not who we want to be. … We are what we put on tape, we are what we put on the field, and we have to be better.”
Young was selected by Carolina with the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft after the Panthers moved up in a trade with Chicago. Carolina parted with its first-rounder in next year’s draft as part of the deal, which also could be the No. 1 pick if the Panthers keep losing.
While Young and Carolina’s offense were stuck in neutral for most of the night, Tyson Bagent — an undrafted rookie from Division II Shepherd University — directed Chicago to a 4-yard TD run by former Panthers running back D’Onta Foreman and three field goals.
It was just enough to hold off the Panthers.
“Got to execute the plays. Got to play better football. Got to be smarter,” said Hubbard, who led Carolina with 23 yards rushing. “We’re a better team, we’re a way better team than what we’re putting out there right now.”
Even with its offensive trouble, Carolina had a chance to tie the game in the fourth. It drove to the Chicago 41 on its last possession, but Young was nearly intercepted by Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn on third-and-10. Reich then decided to send Pineiro out for a 59-yard field goal against the kicker’s first NFL team instead of going for it on fourth down.
“Tough decision. … There was mixed opinions about what we should do,” Reich said. “That’s my call.”
Reich was calling the offensive plays for Carolina at the beginning of the season, but he handed those duties over to offensive coordinator Thomas Brown after the Panthers got off to an 0-6 start.
The change has not achieved the desired effect so far. Carolina has scored two offensive touchdowns in three games since the move.
“It’s not the play calls. It’s the execution,” Young said. “We get put in situations. We have opportunities. We don’t execute. That starts with me. I have to be better.”
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