Panthers' Rivera will stick with struggling quarterback Allen


CHARLOTTE - The Kyle Allen bandwagon is beginning to empty in Carolina.

The Panthers' second-year quarterback who started his NFL career with five straight victories has suddenly stumbled upon tough times, losing three of his past four starts while throwing nine interceptions during that span.

On Sunday, he had his worst performance yet, throwing a career-high four picks while taking five sacks in a 29-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at home.

But with Cam Newton on injured reserve, the Panthers (5-5) are stuck with Allen the rest of the way - and coach Ron Rivera said he's willing to stick with him, knowing there will be a lot of growing pains in the second half of this season.

"I'm not concerned about Kyle's learning curve," Rivera said. "... He's a young quarterback who is going to make young mistakes. But that is why you put him out there. We're going to live with his learning pains because that is what the game is all about."

Rivera said he's confident Allen will get better.

But first, he said, Allen needs to learn that he can't do it alone and has to rely more on his teammates. Twice Allen forced throws into coverage deep in Atlanta territory, leading to a pair of interceptions.

Allen said his performance boiled down to "poor decision-making."

Allen said for him that means spending more time in the film room and simply playing more.

This was only his ninth NFL start, so he's still young.

And maybe Allen was a victim of his early success.

He spoiled Carolina fans by going four games without an interception this season - although he did turn the ball over on five fumbles. But in the past four games Allen has thrown nine interceptions, meaning he has 14 turnovers and 10 touchdown passes on the season.

The same fans that were calling for the Panthers to cut or trade Newton after the season and save $19 million under the 2020 salary cap are probably now wondering how quickly the franchise's all-time leading passer might recover from a foot injury that ended his season.

That's because the jury is still very much out on Allen and whether he can be the team's quarterback of the future.

Carolina drafted Will Grier in the third round, but the team isn't sure if he's ready to play yet.

Tight end Greg Olsen said the game "kind of snowballed" on Allen.

But Olsen quickly added that the entire offense shares blame, calling the game a "comedy of terrible football."

Except Christian McCaffrey, perhaps.

McCaffrey continues to be a bright spot for the Panthers, racking up 191 yards from scrimmage. He would easily eclipsed 200 yards had several plays called back because of holding penalties.

Rivera said Allen could certainly use some help - and he pointed directly at the team's offensive line, which has started a rookie at left tackle for most of the season. First it was Dennis Daley. On Sunday, it was Greg Little in the starting lineup.

Things won't get easier for Allen

Next Sunday he makes a trip to one of the loudest stadiums in the NFL - the Louisiana Superdome - to face the division-leading Saints.