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Monday Brew: Read the room, then clean up mistakes

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CHARLOTTE — Interim coach Chris Tabor knows the Panthers have things to fix after Sunday's loss to the Saints, but he also knows he's dealing with a roster that's weary in ways beyond the physical. 

So, after last night's flight home from New Orleans, he gave players a day off to take a bit of a mental break before the final four games of the season.

"It was something that I had decided upon, and you just have to, I think, read your team, read the room and sometimes," Tabor said Monday. "Sometimes getting away and just kind of clearing your mind is a good solution to kind of having the same routine all the time, if that makes sense."

Of course, a day off isn't a real day off since many of the players were in the building getting treatment or working out or having the kind of off-day meetings that players typically gather for during a season, so Tabor saw plenty of them while he was in with coaches and game-planning for this week's game against the Falcons.

"I mean, I've had a few guys already up in my office watching tape," Tabor said. "So I think, I think when sometimes people hear the word day off, they think we don't see anybody. You actually see everybody."

Basically, there's no formal team meeting like they're going to have on Wednesday. And when they convene, they're going to talk about the thing that troubled him most about the 28-6 loss to the Saints. 

"Once you dig into the tape, the tape will talk to you. You just have to listen to it," he said. "There are some things that the guys did well, and I think probably an area that we want to improve upon is just the self-inflicted stuff. I think that's the hardest part for me. Just in my own area, I will always tip my hat to the opponent. No question. But when we make mental errors that hurt our team, those are tough to swallow.

"Now, with that being said, what are you gonna do? I mean, you, you've got to go back to work, you've got to keep coaching it, points of emphasis, and work to get better. You're never going to get those plays back. And I understand that. But we've got to improve on things like that."

There were sufficient numbers of those to choose from beyond the 137 passing yards that stood as the second-lowest total of the season. The stuff that grinds Tabor's gears are the little mistakes that turn into big headaches. 

The blocked punt was first in his mind, which he attributed to one of the players up front blocking the wrong guy. It's the kind of thing that happens with rapidly changing personnel, but as the special teams coordinator, it's in his kitchen. Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle jumping on a fourth-and-1 and giving the Saints a free first down was another example of the mistakes that drive coaches nuts.

— Tabor is asked some version of the Bryce Young question in every press conference and has been consistent that he doesn't think there's a reason to pull him at this point. Young notched season-lows in completion percentage and passer rating and was sacked four times (getting him to 48 on the season), but Tabor said he still sees value in playing him rather than turning to backup Andy Dalton.

"Well, I think one way to become a better football player is playing football," Tabor said. "That's a pretty simple statement. And the only way you're going to gain experience in the National Football League is by playing. You know, I have a tremendous amount of confidence in Bryce, and I know that there's games and plays that he's going to want back. But, no, that hasn't come into play. It has not."

— There is no deodorant for the remnants of the blocked punt, as Tabor said the play will follow them for the rest of the season. He said he usually looks at the tape in four-week increments when scouting opponents, so he knows opponents will try to attack the punt team the same way the Saints did. 

As with many areas of the roster, injuries and transactions have shuffled his deck, and they've used the same punt team in back-to-back weeks once all season.

"Yeah, pretty simple; we had a man not perform his responsibility on the play," he said. "I think, unfortunately, plays like that on special teams are usually a result of someone just making a busted assignment. I hate it. It's unfortunate, but more importantly, it can't happen.

"And I think that's the thing that we've got work to get cleaned up because now, once you do that and you put it on tape, I always say that there's blood in the water for a good four weeks. So we have what I call the four-week stink on us."

— A number of players were getting injuries checked out Monday. Left guard Justin McCray (calf) and tight end Ian Thomas (ankle) left the game and didn't return. 

But Tabor said punter Johnny Hekker was fine after taking the hit on the blocked punt.

View all the action from the Panthers' game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14.

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