Panthers' quarterback situation, playoff hopes cloudier than ever

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The only member of the Carolina Panthers to attend Colin Kaepernick's workout on Saturday in Atlanta was safety Eric Reid, and that was out of support for his former San Francisco 49ers teammate.

Perhaps general manager Marty Hurney or another member of the scouting staff should have attended, as well.

The future of Carolina's quarterback situation became murkier than ever on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium as Kyle Allen self-destructed in a 29-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons that put the team's playoff hopes on life support.

Allen's three first-half interceptions against a defense that had only two all season -- and none since Week 2 -- continued a trend that caused him to be benched in college at Texas A&M and Houston.

The second-year, undrafted player added a fourth pick in the second half and has nine interceptions in the past four games. He had none during a 4-0 start after taking over for Cam Newton.

The loss wasn't all Allen's fault, mind you. An offensive line that was a strength a month ago gave up five sacks against a defense ranked 30th in the league in that category. The defense at times looked confused and out of position, giving up big plays such as the 48-yard completion to Julio Jones to set up a touchdown at the end of the first half.

Special teams gave up a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown.

This was a complete breakdown by the Panthers (5-5), who with a victory could have put themselves in position for a run at the NFC playoffs.

Allen's issues Sunday add to the Panthers' uncertainty at the quarterback position, with questions about whether the 30-year-old Newton, on injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury, will be brought back in 2020 for the final year of his contract.

Had Allen played well in a Panthers win, the situation might seem less dire. But if turnovers continue to plague him as they did in college -- he had two interceptions and a lost fumble in his last start for the Houston Cougars -- and losses persist, there will calls for third-round draft pick Will Grier in the coming weeks.

Not to suggest Kaepernick could make a difference for the Panthers this season, but one has to wonder why the organization didn't at least attend the workout as potential insurance for the future.

Describe the game in two words: Beyond embarrassing. The Panthers had everything to play for against a two-win Atlanta team and looked like the team with two wins.

Troubling trend: Duh. Interceptions for Allen. He had three in a loss to San Francisco and one each the past two weeks before throwing four more against the Falcons. The pick and fumble last week against Green Bay, as Allen admitted, cost the Panthers a shot to win. The first-half picks today were just as costly.

QB Breakdown: This feels like piling on, but in this case, Allen deserves it. As he did in the loss to San Francisco, he tried to do too much Sunday. Instead of simply getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers such as Christian McCaffrey, he forced passes. His first-half interception in the end zone after he stepped up in the pocket and had plenty of room to run was just about as bad as the one he had against Green Bay in the same situation.