NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Struggling Carolina quarterback Bryce Young slumped his shoulders after overthrowing open receiver Jonathan Mingo for what could have been a 45-yard touchdown just before halftime Sunday.
It was one of many squandered opportunities in an ugly 28-6 loss to the Saints, who played poorly enough to draw boos from the home crowd several times.
Even by the standards of what already had been a brutal rookie season for the NFL's top overall draft choice out of Alabama, Young slipped to a new low on Sunday.
After completing fewer than half of his passes for the first time last week at Tampa Bay, Young barely completed a third of his attempts against New Orleans, finishing 13 of 36 for 137 yards as the Panthers dropped their sixth in a row.
“We were in positions to execute, and I have to make sure it happens,” Young said. “It was just misses. I have to be better.”
Young overshot Mingo deep down the sideline on his first pass. It never got better -- for Young or the Panthers.
It was Young’s sixth consecutive game with fewer than 200 yards passing. He had done the same four times in a row in October. He was even worse in the first half, going 3 of 15 for 29 yards and losing a fumble on a sack.
So what might improve Young's chances of success?
"I don’t know that answer, because if we had the answer, we would have already fixed it,” said interim coach Chris Tabor, who is 0-2 since the Panthers fired Frank Reich. “We just have to continue to work on it. When we have to pitch and catch, we have to pitch and catch. We had opportunities.”
The best chance came when the Panthers moved past midfield while trailing 14-6 in the fourth quarter. But running back Raheem Blackshear slipped as Young threw a quick out to him on fourth-and-1 from the 36.
Carolina’s next possession went exactly as its last one of the first half — with four straight incomplete passes. Young was chased out of the pocket on two plays before throwing the ball away.
“We had some interior pressure early on,” said defensive end Carl Granderson, who had one of for sacks for the the Saints. “Once (Young) gets off (his) spot, he’s looking to either run or get to panicking. We were able to cause pressure, get after him and affect his judgment.”
Carolina has endured a pair of six-game skids sandwiching its lone victory, against Houston on Oct. 29.
“We are all sick and tired of it, but that doesn’t entitle us to anything,” Young said. “It’s on us ultimately why we’re here, and we have to do a better job no matter how tired of it we are.”
This was the first time the Panthers failed to score a touchdown, settling for two field goals by Eddy Pineiro. Young’s efficiency rating dropped to 70.9, the second-lowest among 31 qualifying quarterbacks in the NFL and below expectations for a top draft choice.
“He is going to continue to improve,” said Tabor, who dismissed the suggestion Young might not be gaining much from his experience. “Everything’s frustrating, but we have to keep going.”
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Guerry Smith, The Associated Press