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Bryce Young continues to shine as Panthers struggle on offense in a disappointing season

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers have repeatedly said they believe Bryce Young has the mental toughness and fortitude to bounce back from tough times.

They better be right.

Things can’t get much worse for the No. 1 overall pick in his rookie season, and Sunday’s 28-6 loss to the New Orleans Saints was yet another example that Young isn’t progressing — a concerning problem for an organization that banked its future on him being their quarterback for a long time.

Young turned in yet another dud on Sunday, completing just 13 of 36 passes for 137 yards as the Panthers offense failed to reach the end zone for the third time this season.

In 12 starts, Young has yet to surpass 250 yards passing and he has just as many interceptions (nine) as touchdown passes. In his past six starts, he’s failed to throw for 200 yards, and the breakout game the team has been waiting for simply hasn’t come.

But what are the Panthers to do?

Until they get more help around him on the offensive line and at the wide receiver and tight end positions, Young really has no chance.

So the Panthers (1-12) continue to trudge through a lost season, each week as disappointing as the last, their fans growing more disgruntled — or even worse, apathetic.

Benching Young doesn’t make much sense.

He needs as much experience as possible moving forward, so why not play him?

But whether or not the losing and the lack of success will leave scars on Young’s psyche has to be of concern.

The impact of being sacked 48 times in 12 starts showed up multiple times on Sunday, including when he failed to plant his feet on a deep ball to Jonathan Mingo that should have been an easy touchdown.

“I missed a lot of things,” Young said. “I thought we played well on the perimeter, we played well up front. I’ve got to continue to get better.”

WHAT’S WORKING

The Panthers did run the ball effectively on Sunday, finishing with a season-best 204 yards on the ground on 39 carries. And yet they still couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone.

The Panthers entered the game 29-3 in franchise history when they’ve run the ball for 200 or more yards in a game. They’ve never lost by such a large margin.

The previous team to rush for 200-plus yards and not score a TD on offense was the Rams in a 14-9 loss to Seahawks on Oct. 28. 2013.

WHAT NEEDS HELP

The Panthers have tried a number of different things to help Young over the past few weeks, including having him take snaps from under center instead of the shotgun. But that’s hasn’t worked either.

“It’s been a great learning experience for me, great for me to grow,” Young said. “Obviously it adds a lot of dynamics to us offensively. Continuing to grow in it. I’m grateful for that.”

STOCK UP

Running back Chuba Hubbard has run for 191 yards and two touchdowns over the past two games as he continues to hold off Miles Sanders for the starting job.

Sanders, however, was the more effective back on Sunday in terms of average yards per carry with 74 yards on 10 carries after a 48-yard jaunt.

STOCK DOWN

At a key point in the second half on Sunday, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown called for a pass play on fourth-and-1 — on a day when the Panthers were having great success on the ground and no success through the air.

Young’s pass fell incomplete after running back Raheem Blackshear fell down on his route. It was the second straight week Brown made the mistake of overthinking a play call on fourth and short. Last week it was an interception; this week a turnover on downs.

INJURIES

The Panthers guard position has been simply decimated by injuries and the team lost another on Sunday when Justin McCray left with a calf injury. Tight end Ian Thomas also injured his ankle and did not return.

KEY NUMBERS

37 — Number of intentional throwaways for QB Bryce Young, which is most in the NFL this season ahead of Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts (29). The previous player with more throwaways was Tom Brady with 40 in 2019 and the most recorded on record (since the 2013 season) is Aaron Rodgers with 47 in 2018.

NEXT STEPS

The Panthers return home after three straight games on the road to host the Atlanta Falcons.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl

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