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Monday Brew: Frank Reich evaluates the run game after Seattle


CHARLOTTE – Frank Reich said the Panthers' offensive philosophy is to run the ball much more than they did in their 37-27 loss at Seattle on Sunday.

But it's not how the game situationally went for them, and they've got to find a way to win regardless.

The Panthers put up a season-high 378 total yards, but 44 of them came in the run game – on just 14 tries.

"Just from a lot of years of calling it, I would say I've seen a theme in these kinds of games, where you end up having as few runs as we did," Reich said. "At the end of the day, we're committed to running the football. Well, then, why didn't you call more runs? Well, because I'm first committed to winning the game. And we're going to call whatever we think we need to call to win that particular game."

Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton came in and performed well in place of an injured Bryce Young, but in his 163rd NFL start, he threw the ball a career-high 58 times for 361 yards and two touchdowns. 

Reich said that wasn't the formula to success. Without the run game, the Seahawks could defend against a one-dimensional offense – even if Dalton was having a good day.

"In a perfect world, you're 60-40 pass-run, or 55-45, but game-by-game, you just never know how it's going to work out," Reich said. 

And Reich also added context from his film study, estimating that the Panthers played 40 plays down by two scores – a situation that calls for passing. 

Coupled with Dalton's performance, it didn't make sense to keep trying to get the run working when it wasn't. But it still wasn't the balance they sought. 

"From late in the third quarter where we're down two scores, (there are) 40 plays," Reich said. "That's a lot of plays. On my tape, it was play 47. From play 47 to play 86, it's 40 plays. And when the offense takes the field on each of those plays, we're down two scores. 

"And we're down two scores with a quarterback who's playing pretty good, spreading the ball around and making plays. And the run game up to that point, the handful of runs that we had talked about had not been successful. 

"So I guess the long short of it is calling what we had to call to try to win the game."

– Reich didn't have updates on the starting defensive players who were injured at Seattle, including safety Xavier Woods (hamstring), cornerback CJ Henderson (ankle), or linebacker Frankie Luvu (hip). They'll evaluate more throughout Tuesday before returning to the practice field on Wednesday. 

Wide receiver Jonathan Mingo continues to go through the concussion protocol after sustaining the injury against the Seahawks.

– As for Young, who traveled to Seattle but missed the game with an ankle injury, Reich said they're still figuring out whether he'll be able to practice before the Vikings come to Charlotte on Sunday.

Reich estimated Young would miss "1-2 weeks" before the Seahawks game, leaving the door open for his return against Minnesota.

He said Young has been feeling better and is doing his best to prepare for a return.

"I know he's done everything possible to try to put himself in the position to (practice)," Reich said.

– Reich said he had a short conversation with Young after the Seattle game, checking on how he was feeling. 

He said they hadn't gotten into specifics about what the rookie learned in a week of observing, but Reich felt confident Young got what he needed out of his week along the sidelines. 

"Whatever was set up for Bryce to gain out of this week, I know he gained every ounce of what he can gain, by watching Andy, by watching our offense, by watching our team," Reich said. "He was dialed in to learning from that whole process."

– Reich said he thought the wide receivers played well against Seattle, as the group performed against an injured Seahawks secondary and helped the team come up with a season-best mark of 334 passing yards. 

DJ Chark Jr. caught a 47-yard touchdown pass from Dalton, which was the Panthers' longest offensive touchdown since Week 10 against Atlanta last year. He put up 86 yards on four catches (21.5 yards per reception), while Adam Thielen led the receiving group with 145 yards on 11 receptions.

Reich complimented the receivers and Dalton for making plays Sunday. 

"I thought that DJ getting back and making plays down the field was good; Adam being able to work in a zone (defense), and you know how smart he is in understanding spacing and leverage," Reich said. "And then, the other thing, to Andy's credit, there are some things that came up just like we wanted them to come up in the pass game, and then there were some things and plays that Andy made off-schedule that were dynamic plays by him. So that was a very positive thing."

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 of the regular season.

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