Mick Mixon: Panthers' Winless Start Is A 'Tremendous Gut Punch'

Carolina Start Season 0-2 After Loss To Buccaneers

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
September 13, 2019 - 8:20 am
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) is shoved out of bounds by Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon III Hargreaves (28) during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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The Carolina Panthers fell two yards short of most likely defeating the Buccaneers on Thursday night football.

Tampa Bay's Vernon Hargreaves forced running back Christian McCaffrey out of bounds with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter, seizing the team's 20-14 win against its divisional counterpart. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton expressed his frustration with himself for the lack of execution and the team is finding it hard to "put the ball in the end zone" with the numerous opportunities.

Carolina is off to a disappointing start to the season. The Panthers fell three-points shy to the Los Angeles Rams before their loss to Tampa Bay sank them to the bottom of the NFC South. Mick Mixon, Panthers play-by-play radio announcer, discussed the impact of the Panthers' disastrous start and what it means for the team's starting quarterback when he joined "After Hours with Amy Lawrence" on Friday.

"To fall 0-2, but with two conference games - one a divisional game - it's a tremendous gut punch," Mixon told Lawrence. "And I think as you and I talk right now, I think it's fair to say that the 2019 Carolina Panthers still don't really know who we are as a football team. The defensive identity, the offensive identity, Cam Newton - where's the running? He's in the best shape of his life. He's gone all-vegan. His body looks like he sculpted it in some kind of art class. He says his foot, shoulder's fine so why isn't this yielding more splash plays and more completions? Cam's going to have to answer a lot of difficult questions this week in the aftermath of tonight."

Newton has been less than perfect through the first two games of the season. The 30-year-old has yet to throw a touchdown pass in 49 completions, being picked off once against the Rams in Week 1. Newton has strayed away from his running game, an aspect that made the quarterback so versatile throughout his career. He's rushed for negative-two yards on five carries in 2019. Mixon says that the loss doesn't fall entirely fall on Newton's shoulders, but his performance left mixed reviews. 

"Some good, some bad," Mixon said. He makes plays like he's done his entire career. He'll make plays that no other quarterback can make," Mixon said. "But then he'll miss plays that any quarterback should make. You also have to say, tonight a lot of what happened to him and to the offense was not his fault. Some of it was - if he's got a clean pocket and he's got an open receiver and he misfires then that's of course on QB1.

"But I thought Tampa Bay and Todd Bowles had an excellent plan for the Panthers. They brought pressure on almost every play from a variety of different angles. Three sacks but there were many hurries, many pressures. Carolina was never able to make the Bucs pay for the additional manpower they used to pressure the pocket with."

While it is only two weeks into the season, the road doesn't get easier for the Panthers being in the NFC South and already suffering one divisional loss. Mixon expects the Panthers to have stiff competition for the division crown moving forward. 

"You've got the greatly detested Atlanta Falcons with Matt Ryan down there. They're always problematic," Mixon said. "[Tampa Bay head coach] Bruce Arians, high IQ football coach as he's called the quarterback whisperer, if he can tame this stallion known as Jameis Winston then he should go directly to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Famous Jameis played well [on Thursday]. The Saints, I've upped my contribution to the "Drew Brees retirement party" to $2,500. Think of the beverages we could have and if I could get people from these other teams, we need to get him out of football! Did you see the end of the Houston/Saints game? 37 seconds for Drew Brees, you just knew the Saints were going to win."

Click the audio player below to listen to Mixon's interview in its entirety.