The Carolina receivers went bad first. Then Cam Newton did.
That's not the reason the Panthers lost Sunday to a lesser team. They lost because they were outcoached.
Why the unwillingness to adjust? It was evident that Carolina could not handle the Arizona pressure. So why not change? Throw more screens. If the pressure is consistently coming from the inside, go outside.
The Panthers were clearly the better team early. Newton looked like Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher, and the best pitcher in baseball. That fastball was working.
The drops by Newton's receivers enabled the Cardinals to hang in. Then the Cardinals adjusted. They found ways to undo Newton, to consistently hit him.
And because they couldn't protect their immobile quarterback, they went to the run. And the Panther rush disappeared.
Why didn't the Panthers adjust? When an opponent consistently takes something away, you change. Arizona took away Newton's scrambling. Arizona took away long passes; Newton didn't have time to throw them.
The Panthers came in with a game plan and stuck with it.
The plan didn't work.