Giants vs. Panthers score, takeaways: Stock up, stock down after Daniel Jones shines in close New York victory
Panthers rookie QB Bryce Young had another quiet outing
Week 2 of the 2023 NFL preseason continued Friday night, and so did the Panthers' offensive line struggles. Carolina's backups rallied at MetLife Stadium, chipping away at a 21-6 fourth-quarter deficit thanks to highlight-reel plays from reserve quarterbacks Matt Corral and Jake Luton. But the story of the night, besides a nearly spotless start from Daniel Jones and the Giants' starters, was the Panthers' ongoing inability to give No. 1 pick Bryce Young a comfortable pocket in a 21-19 loss.
Young only got two series in his second round of preseason action, and he did guide a field-goal drive. But once again, his numbers were quiet -- 3 of 6 for 35 yards -- behind a rickety line that permitted Giants pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux to get physical with the rookie QB on multiple occasions. It's not hard to figure out where his O-line ended up in our "stock up, stock down" report:
Stock up: the Daniel Jones-Darren Waller connection
Word out of Giants camp has been that Waller, the ex-Raiders star, is the real deal as Jones' new top target. It sure looked the case against Carolina, with Jones feeding Waller four passes -- and connecting on three for 30 yards -- on the first drive alone. Durability, of course, is a long-term key. But it's clear Waller still gets open with ease when healthy, even as a designated focal point.
Stock down: the Panthers' OL
Again. It was fine to shrug the shoulders a bit when Carolina's front buckled against the Jets' stingy defense, but the Panthers were even worse against the G-Men, allowing Bryce Young to be pressured on almost 43% of his drop-backs, per NFL Media. That might be fine if Young had elite separators at his disposal out wide, but as we'll note below, that's also not the case.
Stock up: Jalin Hyatt
The speedy third-round rookie entered the NFL with questions about his size, strength and route-running, and sure, some of those concerns may remain, but boy does this kid fly, as he proved on a 33-yard TD bomb from Tyrod Taylor. If Waller dominates the mid-range targets from Jones, Hyatt has a chance to really open up New York's passing attack with DeSean Jackson-like juice.
Stock down: the Panthers' starting WRs
Rookie Jonathan Mingo isn't at fault here; he even showed some slipperiness on a first-down catch early. But veterans Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark? They combined for two catches and 20 yards while failing to get much separation when Bryce Young was on the field. It's not altogether surprising, but rather a painful reminder Young is possibly a year away from a legit supporting cast.
Stock up: the Panthers' backup QBs
Besides the Giants' starters and reserve Panthers wideout Shi Smith, who did more damage than Chark and Thielen combined, the best players on the field Friday may have come from Carolina's QB bench. Matt Corral has been an afterthought for much of the offseason but showed consistent elusiveness to guide the club's first TD drive of the preseason, and former Jaguars sixth-rounder Jake Luton displayed perfect touch on a TD throw to Gary Jennings to pull the Panthers within two down the stretch.
Jake Luton's TD throw might've been the most impressive pass from a Panthers QB all night. Perfect touch as Gary Jennings reached the end zone. Luton has bounced between four different teams since entering the NFL in 2020, and he only joined Carolina in late July. Has a chance to stick as an emergency practice-squad arm, unless Matt Corral exits and clears the No. 3 job.
Don't call it a comeback! All of a sudden the Panthers are within two and there's still almost seven minutes to play. This time it's Jake Luton, the former Jaguars sixth-rounder, who tosses a TD to Gary Jennings.
Finally we have a Panthers touchdown! Matt Corral keeps his eyes downfield on a rollout and finds Shi Smith for a big gain, then Raheem Blackshear seals the deal with a score. It's now 21-12. Smith has come up big with four catches for 59 yards tonight.
Tommy DeVito's smooth moves:
Regular-season refs probably would've blown the play dead, but Giants undrafted rookie Tommy DeVito shows off his mobility by eluding several would-be sacks to gain positive yards. Three of New York's top four rushers in this game are QBs.
At least Matthew Wright's leg is working. Sneaks a 53-yard field goal over the uprights to get Carolina back on the board. Panthers still without a TD this preseason, but they cut it to a 21-6 ballgame.
A couple numbers of note: the Panthers actually lead the Giants in time of possession (16:11 to 13:49) but they've gone just 1 of 6 on third downs. They've technically surrendered just one sack, but neither Bryce Young nor backup Matt Corral (veteran No. 2 Andy Dalton is resting) has had too many clean pockets to begin with. And here's the killer: Carolina is averaging just 2.8 yards per play, whereas the Giants have averaged 5.6 while showcasing more of a willingness to air it out downfield.
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