It has everything to do with the future of the organization, though. Whomever owner David Tepper hires to replace Ron Rivera as the next head coach will need a top quarterback to have a chance for immediate success.
Evidence is mounting that Kyle Allen is not that quarterback. Another bad day against a bad Atlanta defense is a big reason for that. Allen was 28-of-41 for 293 yards, with one touchdown and three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble).
The Falcons have 10 interceptions on the season. Six have come against Allen, who has lost five straight starts after winning five of his first six. His untimely turnovers are a part of why Carolina has gone from 5-3 and a playoff contender to 5-8.
This season hasn’t gone awry only because of Allen -- but, as Rivera said Wednesday, the Panthers’ troubles began when Newton was injured last season (shoulder) and again this season (left foot).
Tepper recently said no decision has been made on Newton’s future with the organization, saying the priority was to get the 2015 NFL MVP healthy. A completely healthy Newton with a relatively low 2020 salary-cap figure of $21.5 million could give the next coach the best chance to win. The emphasis here is on completely healthy.
That coach will have many other issues to solve that interim coach Perry Fewell did not in his debut. Among those is shoring up a defense that gave up 69 points in two losses to an Atlanta team that has two of its four wins against the Panthers.
But stabilizing the quarterback position has to be the first priority.
QB breakdown: Allen continues to be plagued by turnovers, although two of the three he had this Sunday weren’t entirely his fault. The interception came on arguably his best pass of the day when tight end Ian Thomas bobbled the catch into the hands of the defender. And Allen was blindsided on the strip sack, his seventh lost fumble this year.
Troubling trend: The run defense continues to struggle against the run, as it did under Rivera. The Panthers gave up 78 rushing yards in the first half and 159 for the game. The run defense remains undisciplined and doesn't maintain gap control. Primary example: Devonta Freeman’s 13-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter when he wasn't touched.
Biggest hole in the game plan: How to stop wide receiver Calvin Ridley. In the teams' first meeting this season, the former Alabama star had eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. On Sunday, he had five catches for 76 yards and a touchdown in the first half of this one before an injury shut him down.