CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers have started the season 0-2, and have only themselves to blame.

After their week one loss to the LA Rams, head coach Ron Rivera claimed “missed opportunities,” as the cause of the 30-27 defeat.

Thursday night, the Panthers offense did not score a touchdown, the relied on Joey Slye for four field goals, and a safety credited to Luke Kuechly to get to 14 points.

The game on the line, however, it looked like the Panthers out-thought themselves.

Needing  one half of a yard, Carolina put the ball in running back Christian McCaffrey’s hands, and ran a fake to Curtis Samuel, leaving McCaffrey to try and reach the one yard line for a fresh set of downs, or even the pylon for a touchdown.

McCaffrey was stopped short of the line to gain, and effectively ended Carolina’s comeback hopes.

This failure, in my opinion is NOT on McCaffrey, even though he took the blame for it.

Why is Cam Newton’s number not being called when his offense needed all of 18 inches to keep their hopes alive?

In fact, Newton didn’t even TOUCH the ball on that play, as it was a direct snap to McCaffrey.

In no way am I taking issue with McCaffrey or his efforts.  He is, by far, the Panthers most dangerous weapon.  I just don’t see where Cam Newton, under center, needing a foot and a half for a first down doesn’t garner a thought with the game on the line.

Football people will tell you that no game ever is decided by just one play.  That is a sentiment I completely agree with.  Carolina could have made countless other plays on offense to give themselves a chance to win.

The game on the line, however, your former league MVP quarterback deserves the shot to lead his team.

The shot wasn’t taken.

So now, the questions that will follow the Panthers into this mini-bye weekend will focus on Newton and his health.

Is he 100 percent?

Are the Panthers trying to protect him?

To me, if you are going to play the man, then let the man PLAY.  Handcuffing Newton benefits no one.

Carolina’s offense needs to find a way to diversify itself, as every team in the league will be scheming to limit what McCaffrey does.  Tampa Bay did just that, holding him to 53 total yards (37 rushing, 16 receiving).

Rivera, and offensive coordinator Norv Turner find themselves in a 0-2 hole, dropping the first two of their eight home games, and while it may not be time to panic, it is time to make a decision on how to get the offense going.

Time is already running out.