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NFL Today: Thomas Brown Takes Over Play Calling in Carolina

November 2, 2023 | By RotoRob | comment on this post
Frank Reich has relinquished play calling duties for the Carolina Panthers.
Frank Reich is finally letting his OC call plays for Carolina. (ESPN)

This week, Minnesota lost QB Kirk Cousins (torn Achilles) for the rest of the season; the Raiders got tired of losing and fired their top brass; and Taylor Heinicke is going to get a chance to prove he deserves to be Atlanta’s starting QB.

Could Carolina’s Offense Improve?

The Carolina Panthers have struggled offensively so far this season, but perhaps there is a glimmer of hope now that Head Coach Frank Reich finally opted to cede play calling to Offensive Coordinator Thomas Brown last week.

It may not have resulted in an offensive outpouring, but it did help spur the Cats to their first win of the season, while QB Bryce Young showed some more progress in putting up a season-best 7.6 YPA.

Despite the fact it tried to be coy about taking him first overall in this year’s draft, Carolina has a ton riding on Young, so giving him every opportunity to develop behooves the team.

And if that means turning the offense over to Brown, then this move should be applauded. The early returns showed tremendous potential (even Reich had some good things to say — see video below) so we suggest you take another look at the Panthers as Young is now a QB2 with great upside, Miles Sanders is a great RB4 (as is Chuba Hubbard) and Adam Thielen is a decent WR1. Hell, even DJ Chark and Jonathan Mingo are stream worthy at this point.

But note that there’s now great potential for upside in the second half for all the Panthers’ offensive weapons.

Will Houston’s Offensive Line Hold Up?

In looking at the current NFL standings, it’s fascinating to see how things have changed in the AFC South this season. While Jacksonville — thanks to a five-game winning streak — has increased its hold on the division, every other team has shown improvements as well… especially the Houston Texans.

After managing just three wins last season, the Texans played .500 football over the first six games of the season to match that total. And while the playoffs are still quite possible for Houston, two losses in the last three — including coming off its bye and losing to Carolina last week to fall under .500 — hurt badly. Still, with the remaining schedule including games against Cincinnati, Jacksonville, the Jets, Cleveland and the Titans (twice), the Texans very much remain in control of their own fate.

The question going forward for Houston is how effectively can it protect quarterback C.J. Stroud? So far, the offensive line has done very well in front of the rookie (he’s been sacked just 15 times through seven games), but now centre Jarrett Patterson (broken ankle) is done for the year, which follows a previous injury to original starter Juice Scruggs.

Stroud’s ability to limit mistakes (just one interception) has really impressed us. Consider him a low-end starter for Week Nine, but do note that he seems to be hitting some kind of rookie wall with three straight meh games after looking so good in the three previous weeks. Stroud’s yardage totals have been in free fall and after going three straight games without getting sacked, he’s wound up on his back four times over the last two games.

Joe Burrow Turning Things Around

Oh man, it’s fun to watch Joe Burrow regain his mobility and start looking like himself again. Coming off his three best games of the season, it’s clear that the calf injury that slowed him for the first month is now a thing of the past.

Burrow’s overall numbers are down this year, especially his touchdown total, but he’s still racking up as many completions as he did in 2022. Consider him a mid-range QB1 for Week Nine, and just marvel how good he can look getting it done…

RotoRob Tune of the Day

English post-punk band Big Audio Dynamite formed in 1984 and remained active until 1997, briefly getting back together in 2011. In 1989, they released their fourth and final studio album, Megatop Phoenix, which included the very brief track “All Mink & No Manners.”

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