Panthers HC Matt Rhule: Offense has to figure out ‘who our core is’

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It wasn’t like the Carolina Panthers offense was a house on fire during their blazing 3-0 start to the 2021 campaign. The group was, however, warm enough to keep the success up.

But now, after three straight losses with three straight untidy performances from the unit, the walls of the house are beginning to close in.

The Panthers fell, in large part due to a listless day on offense, to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 6, 34-28. Head coach Matt Rhule made some intriguing comments on the group after the loss, inferring they may have to reassess who they are.

“I gotta figure out what exactly we need to be on offense,” Rhule said. “At the end of the day, you’re trying to formulate an identity. We wanna run it. Run it a little bit here, a little bit there. I think Chuba’s [Hubbard] playing really well. We have to figure out maybe who our core is a little bit better than what we are right now.”

Well, we know who is quarterback Sam Darnold is. He’s still pretty much the same Sam Darnold the New York Jets had, as another erratic outing plagued the effort. The fourth-year passer completed just 17 of his 41 attempts on Sunday for 207 yards, one touchdown, one interception and a lost fumble.

Carolina, especially without running back Christian McCaffrey for at least the two next games, can’t keep getting these types of outings from Darnold. He, and the rest of the offense, must adjust to the plan . . . whatever that may be.

“Again, I think we had a plan,” Rhule added. “I think we felt good about it. Obviously, today, it didn’t look very good at times. We’re just gonna continue to evolve and try to get better.”

Next week could present a prime “get right” opportunity, as the Panthers travel to East Rutherford, N.J. to take on the 1-5 New York Giants. And if they don’t get right, some guys may have to get going.

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