Frank Reich: Panthers' offensive struggles not just on Bryce Young's shoulders

Through eight quarters, Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers offense have mustered just two touchdowns.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s equated to an 0-2 start following Carolina’s 20-17 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night.

It’s been an auspicious start for the 2023 NFL Draft’s No. 1 overall pick, but Panthers head coach Frank Reich wasn’t about to saddle Young with all the blame for the squad’s tribulations — even if he knows it comes with the position.

“Listen, head coach, quarterback, we’re gonna take the heat, and that just comes with the territory, so you own that, and you understand that when you’re in that position, and Bryce understands that for the position he’s in,” Reich said. “I can tell you this, certainly our struggle on offense, it’s not one person. Again, we’ll look at the film, but I thought Bryce did some really positive things, made some plays with his feet, made some good decisions, made good throws, showed plenty of things that we want to see, so I was encouraged by that.”

Young, who was 22 for 33 with 153 yards and a touchdown pass to Adam Thielen in the fourth quarter, has yet to eclipse 160 passing yards in a game. Through two games, he’s averaged just 4.2 yards per attempt, which is the fewest in a quarterback’s first two career starts in the Super Bowl era, per NFL Research.

Young had his flashes — with his arm and his legs — but too often came up short against a staunch Saints defense. He’s maintaining the optimism that something is being built in Carolina, even though the growing pains have been difficult to look away from thus far.

“I think there’s stuff that has gone well that we can build off of,” Young said. “Obviously, we’re not where we need to be right now, but there’s no loss of confidence, no loss of faith in the locker room. I’m grateful to be a part of this team, I believe in the team, I believe in the coaching staff, I feel like we have what it takes and you always have to execute and do a better job of putting it together. But ultimately, we have to go and prove that.”

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Throughout the preseason, Young and the first-team offense struggled behind some shoddy offensive line play. That was a culprit Monday, as well, with Young getting sacked four times. The running game produced just 100 yards even, with Young contributing 34.

“We all got to get better, everybody’s got to get better, coaches and players, so that’s the way we work through it,” Reich said.

There were some boos that could be heard from the home crowd, but Reich is of the belief that those were directed at him and not his rookie signal-caller.

“I don’t think that’s for Bryce, that’s on me, that’s on our team, so that’s part of it, but it’s part of every game,” Reich said. “I don’t like it, believe me we want to give the fans wins and an exciting brand of football, that’s what we’re going to do. But it’s a process, we’re two games into a 17-game season. Things haven’t gone the way we want to, but nobody’s throwing in the towel, and it’s a long year.”

Reich clarified that he will not be handing over the play-calling duties as the Panthers continue to search for a spark to light up the offense.

Despite the numbers and results, Young is saying the right things and aiming to overcome the tumultuous start.

“I’m confident, I have tremendous belief in the team, this whole building, and we still have to earn the right to go and prove that to the world,” he said. “And so I’m excited for that challenge”

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