After Sunday’s overtime loss to the Vikings, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said the team has to figure out its offensive identity with running back Christian McCaffrey on injured reserve.
Rhule shared some of what he’d like that identity to be on Monday. Rhule said that quarterback Sam Darnold is “not playing well enough” and said blame for that goes beyond Darnold. He cited the need for coaches to do better and said the job for everyone on the offense is “to help our quarterback play well.”
One way to do that is to put more focus on the run game. Chuba Hubbard had 16 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown in the loss to Minnesota and Rhule said that the team is going to be more committed to that aspect of the offense than they’ve been in the last few weeks.
“The shame of the game yesterday when you really go back and watch the game, we ran the ball well, we just have not been committed enough to running it,” Rhule said, via the team’s website. “And that’s going to change, I can tell you right now. You’ll see a vastly different look from us moving forward. We’re not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that’s going to win the game for us. It hasn’t. So there’s no McCaffrey, Chuba’s showing us he can run the ball at a high level when given enough opportunities. So we’re going to redefine who we are. We’re going to run the football, and we’re going to protect our quarterback, and we’re not going to turn the ball over anymore. And that’s the only way that we’re going to win.”
It will be at least two more games before McCaffrey returns to the lineup and the Panthers’ redefined offense will have to click in those contests if they want to welcome him back to a team that isn’t riding a lengthy losing streak.