Analyzing Panthers' Red Zone Struggles

It is no secret that the Carolina Panthers have struggled in the red zone this year. This was very evident against the Tampa Bucs with four trips to the red zone and only one touchdown.’s Brandon Croce take an in-depth look at the numbers and what is going wrong.

Panthers Red-Zone Trips vs. Bucs

Red Zone Trip Pass Play Run Play Penalties Results
1 9 2 2 Field Goal
2 3 0 0 Field Goal
3 1 1 0 Touchdown
4 1 1 0 Lost Fumble

Looking at the chart it is evident that the Panthers relied heavily on the pass compared to the run, throwing more than twice as many times as running it. They didn’t have much success though as Derek Anderson was just 3-for-9 in the red zone for 23 yards against the Bucs but did have the one touchdown throw to Jerricho Cotchery.

One of the reasons they had to throw the ball so much was that the run game was just as ineffective as they got closer to the goal-line. The Panthers were only able to pick up six yards on the ground on four carries. This lack of production is hard to understand when you have a big running back in Jonathan Stewart and an even bigger running back in Mike Tolbert.

This Panthers offense seems to have all the pieces to be successful in the red zone and capable of beating defenses in different ways. They have the big running backs mentioned above that would allow them to run a power offense. They also have the wide receivers that could spread defenses out, like Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin. Both of these players have the size and ability to box out defenders and win jump balls in the endzone.

So if they have the pieces, why are they struggling? The biggest issue that stood out against the Bucs wasn’t the plays that were called but the execution of those plays.

Against the Bucs, the Panthers offense made too many mistakes to be successful. There is no margin for error down near the goal-line but Carolina had two false starts on their first trip to the red zone and then Stewart fumbled the ball when they were inside the five-yard line later in the game.

Derek Anderson really struggled with his accuracy in this part of the field, over-throwing wide receivers on a number of occasions. On the Panthers’ first trip to the red zone, Anderson had three makeable throws that should have been made. He overthrew Greg Olsen on the first play in the red zone, then overthrew Philly Brown in the left corner of the end zone. On third down Ed Dickson ran a slant across the middle but Anderson led him too far and he was only able to get one hand on it.

The Panthers got lucky on Sunday beating the Bucs, especially with how many scoring chances they had. A majority of the time settling for field goals will not win games in the NFL. If the Panthers hope to win the division and make noise in the playoffs, they need to get this part of their offense fixed quickly.  


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