Newton frustrated Panthers aren’t scoring more touchdowns
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Quarterback Cam Newton said the Carolina Panthers’ offense is lacking a killer instinct.
While Newton wasn’t about to trade anything for emotional high that comes with a win, he wasn’t pleased with the offense’s production after a 28-16 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
“The defense played lights out for us, gave us unbelievable field position. Offensively, not to rain on the win, we have to put up points — points as in getting touchdowns,” Newton said after the Panthers snapped a two-game losing streak.
It has been a common theme for the Panthers (5-8) all season.
The defense has repeatedly set up Newton and company with good field position, only for a drive to end in a Graham Gano field goal attempt, a punt or turnover. The Panthers settled for four field goals on Sunday and the managed two touchdowns. But another Carolina drive inside the Chargers 10-yard line ended in a Newton interception.
“Part of it we press,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. “We get down in the red zone and we want to try to make something happen. And whether it’s a negative play that crops up and puts you in a negative position or you’re trying to force it or just the missed opportunities.”
Rivera pointed to the Newton’s pass to Kelvin Benjamin in the end zone that was intercepted by Trovon Reed as a perfect example of the Panthers being just a little off.
“If he puts that ball a little wider to the outside where only Kelvin can get it that could have been a touchdown,” Rivera said. “If he throws a high fade, that could have been a touchdown. Or maybe he runs the ball. He had options out there. He read what he was supposed to read and went with what the play that he did. And that’s unfortunate.”
Said tight end Greg Olsen: “A couple of times, we settled for field goals which fortunately didn’t come back to hurt us. We understand we have to be better in those situations. When we have short field like that, especially early, we have to be able to convert those into touchdowns.”
Carolina’s red zone numbers are good, but their overall production is way down from a year ago.
The Panthers led the league in scoring last season and finished second in overall in offense, but things have fallen off this year despite the return of Benjamin — the team’s No. 1 receiver as a rookie in 2014.
Carolina has dropped to 13th in the league scoring and 19th in offense in 2016.
“I didn’t feel as good as I normally feel after a win, but when I watched the tape I felt better about what we did,” Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula said. “Sometimes those one or two plays make you feel real bad and you forget about the good things that we did. But yes, we need to get the ball into the end zone — and we have that type of offense to do it.”
Carolina’s next chance to improve those numbers will be Monday night at the Redskins.
Newton said the Panthers offense has struggled to impose its will.
“We have to have that type of mentality, that killer instinct and we didn’t have it,” said Newton, before managing to find the bright side. “But we found ways to win and that’s positive.”
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