This was the type of game everyone hoped for when the Carolina Panthers drafted Devin Funchess, they only wished it didn't take until Week 9 for it to happen. Against the Packers, Funchess had career highs in receptions (3), receiving yards (72) to go along with his first career touchdown.
The big wide receiver out of the University of Michigan has struggled to adjust to the NFL game and one of the biggest reasons has been drops, which is something that plagued him in college. According to Pro Football Focus, he is tied for fifth in the NFL with six drops, along with teammate Ted Ginn Jr.. The bigger reason for concern is that he is dropping at an alarming rate with the amount of drops he has on a limited amount of targets (23).
However, if this game against the Packers is a sign of things to come then the fourth highest scoring offense in the NFL just became a little more dangerous. The biggest weakness of this offense has been the fact that there is no go-to wide receiver due to the absence of Kelvin Benjamin. If Funchess can continue to produce and keep his drops to minimum, it will make Cam Newton's job just a little bit easier.
The last two games for Kony Ealy brings back memories of the end of last season when the defensive end had a sack in each of the final three regular season games. The second year pass rusher has now had back to back games with sacks, as well as a forced fumble on each of those sacks.
The Panthers' pass rush has had a bit of resurgence the past few weeks with 16 sacks over the past four games and averaging four a game. These numbers are better than the first four weeks of the season when they had only 11 sacks and were averaging under three.
Ealy has certainly helped this cause with his two sacks and he will be looking to extend his streak to three games when the Panthers' try and contain the mobile Marcus Mariota.
Panthers In the Fourth Quarter
There may not be one player in particular to pinpoint who has seen their stock go down but one thing is apparent, the Panthers struggle in the fourth quarter. The past two weeks the team has blown a 17-point lead to the Indianapolis Colts and had to win in overtime and almost blew a 23-point fourth quarter lead to the Green Bay Packers. The past two weeks the Panthers have been outscored by their opponents 32-13 in the final quarter.
It is hard to pinpoint where exactly the problem lies but the Panthers are going to need to correct this over the second half of the seaosn and hopefully in the playoffs. If the team gets up big, they need to continue to play with urgency and close games out.
The Panthers certainly deserve some credit here as they very easily could have lost one, or both, of those games, especially the one against the Colts. They were able to hang tough, regroup and win these games. Hopefully, they won't have to show this again this year and can keep big leads to the end of the game.