The Carolina Panthers have a laughably bad offense in 2017. That shouldn’t be, really—they have a lot of talent—but it is. And they made a conscious decision to make it worse by trading away Kelvin Benjamin.
The trade makes sense in some lights. It’s obvious the Panthers didn’t love Benjamin’s long-term fit, and given that he’s a free agent after the year, it makes sense to explore a move if you’re not planning to keep him. They’ll save money that they can use on...someone else? I’ve never been a big Marty Hurney fan.
The upshot of the move in the near-term, however, is that the Panthers have very few quality options for Cam Newton to throw the ball to. Their new number one receiver is Devin Funchess, a big target with a sort of whelming history as a pass catcher in this offense. Rookie Christian McCaffrey is being woefully underused in this offense, rookie Curtis Samuel is suffering the same fate, and with Greg Olsen hurt, there just aren’t any distinctly above average receiving options on this football team. Couple that with a struggling ground attack and you’re depending on your defense to do an awful lot of heavy lifting.
Kelvin Benjamin in 4 career games vs. Falcons: 17 receptions, 220 yards, 70 YAC, 3 TDs, 14 first downs, 33 targets. Won’t be there Sunday.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) October 31, 2017
That’s solid production from a big receiver who could work against the Falcons’ shorter cornerbacks, and the Panthers are going to miss it. This move could not have been better-timed for the Falcons defense, which just played a confidence-boosting game against the Jets.
Newton is and always will be a terrifying quarterback, a giant battering ram of a man who can flick a ball downfield with no effort and plow over linebackers when he takes the ball down to run. But he can’t do everything alone, as we’ve seen repeatedly this year, and the Panthers seem hellbent on increasing his degree of difficulty. We’ll hope the Falcons can take advantage.