Reeling Panthers' secondary making critical mistakes

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin (89) attempts to catch a pass against Carolina Panthers defensive back Captain Munnerlyn (41) and cornerback James Bradberry (24) at Bank of America Stadium.Photo: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Ron Rivera: "Those are things that we have to get corrected."

Carolina is on a three-game losing streak and the Panthers are viewing that slide as self-inflicted, especially with their porous pass defense.

Coach Ron Rivera blames a series of mistakes for the downfall, including Sunday's 30-27 loss at home against Seattle.

"If you really go back and look at it, that's what the game came down to and everybody says it," he said. "Football, winning football games, comes down to four, five, six plays. And that's exactly what got us. I'm not going to sit here and try to make any excuse other than the fact that those are things that we have to get corrected."

Chief among the mistakes are the big passing plays allowed by Carolina's secondary.

In Sunday's game, rookie starting cornerback Donte Jackson left the game after only one play with a quadriceps injury. The Panthers used second-year cornerback Corn Elder and veteran nickelback Captain Munnerlyn in his place.

James Bradberry, the Panthers' top cornerback, had a sack off a blitz and a pass breakup in the first half, but then allowed a 54-yard gain on third-and-12 in the third quarter.

Seattle had four more passing plays of more than 20 yards and another for 19 yards.

In the three-game losing streak, the Panthers have allowed 10 passing plays of 20 or more yards. Six of those plays have been on third or fourth down.

Rivera indicated on Monday that he is looking closely at what his coaching staff should do to fix the critical errors..

"Maybe we need to look at some of the things we have them do," he said. "Maybe it's on us. ... And that's what we do. We go up, we look at what we did. If it's working, we want to continue to improve on it. If it's not working, we get rid of it and find something else that does."

Staff changes are not included in this fix, according to Rivera, who mentioned he is comfortable with his assistants.

"Again, I think we've got a group of young guys that we're coaching up at every position, and they're going through a development right now," he said. "I think that's the thing that we have to look at. ... It's about game experience."

Defensive coordinator Eric Washington is in his first year, and his position coaches are also in their first year. Defensive line coach Brady Hoke, the former Michigan coach, was hired to fill the role left vacant by Washington, who held the job for eight seasons. Linebackers coach Steve Russ is also in his first year in the job after former coach Al Holcomb joined former defensive coordinator Steve Wilks in Arizona.

Rivera also promoted former California teammate and longtime Panthers assistant Richard Rodgers to the secondary coach position after former coach Curtis Fuller resigned amid an investigation of inappropriate behavior. Assistant secondary coach Jeff Imamura, who is in charge of nickelbacks and cornerbacks, is also in his first year in the position and second year with the team.

--CB Donte Jackson said in the locker room Monday that he felt "all right," but offered no update on his quadriceps injury that forced him to leave the game against Seattle in the first quarter. Jackson's status will likely be uncertain for most of the week.

--WR Damiere Byrd left Sunday's game with an arm injury, aggravating the same arm that was broken last year in a game against New England. He will be out indefinitely.

--WR Devin Funchess (back) did not play Sunday against Seattle after missing practice last week. His availability this week is questionable.

--WR Torrey Smith was listed as questionable last week headed into the Seattle game with a knee injury. Smith did not catch a pass in his first game in action in five weeks.

--CB James Bradberry left Sunday's game with an undisclosed injury. His status for this week's game is uncertain.

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