The Panthers chance to upset the Raiders yesterday unraveled for good on a sack, which has happened far too often to Cam Newton this season.
There were reasons for that, of course, but Panthers coach Ron Rivera was blunt when talking about the situation with reporters.
“It’s about as catastrophe as you can get,” Rivera said Monday, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review.
Only four quarterbacks in the league have been sacked more than Newton, so getting drilled by Khalil Mack to end the game wasn’t that much of a surprise.
But take a deep breath for a second, and let’s recap how the Panthers got to a spot where left guard Andrew Norwell was the only intended starter at his position by the end of the game.
Left tackle Michael Oher went on injured reserve after his concussions symptoms persisted after eight weeks. All-Pro Center Ryan Kalil was inactive because of a shoulder injury, and didn’t even make the trip meaning he won’t play Sunday at Seattle.
So as they’ve done previously this year, they moved right tackle Mike Remmers to left tackle, brought Daryl Williams off the bench to play right tackle and plugged center Gino Gradkowski in the middle.
But then Williams injured his knee, forcing Pro Bowl right guard Trai Turner to move to right tackle, with utility man Chris Scott plugging in his spot. Then Gradkowski aggravated his knee injury, forcing recent practice squad call-up Tyler Larsen into the middle.
Rivera didn’t update their injury situation Monday, as they’re staying on the West coast, and probably because he doesn’t know how to plug all the holes. Realistically, any team that loses a starting left tackle and a player the caliber of Kalil for any amount of time is going to struggle.
And with the avalanche of pressure on Newton, trying to identify which snowflake triggered it also seems futile for a 4-7 team.