Stats show Panthers' Bryce Young hasn't improved this season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers are 1-11 and Bryce Young is 1-10, having missed one game with a sprained ankle. He ranks near the bottom of the NFL in practically every category at his position, including Total QBR (31.4), where he is ahead of only Zach Wilson of the New York Jets (30.3).

Heading into Sunday's game against the New Orleans Saints (1 p.m. ET, Fox), the 2023 No. 1 overall pick has shown little statistical improvement over the course of a tumultuous season, but the team still supports him.

"I have zero concerns about Bryce at all for the future,'' said offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, who resumed playcalling duties after coach Frank Reich was fired two weeks ago.

Passing coordinator Parks Frazier, who also took over as quarterbacks coach when Josh McCown was fired, agreed.

"The sky's the limit for him, and he's going to be the face of the franchise for a long time,'' Frazier said. "And even though the numbers don't show it right now, we still believe that he's the guy.''

That Young has remained positive is perhaps his biggest accomplishment.

"I told him the other week this is probably the best thing that will ever happen to you, just because now you kind of have the ability to fight through adversity and go through the toughest of tough times," wide receiver Adam Thielen said.

But the improvement the staff hoped he would show since they last face the Saints hasn't happened. His stats from the first two weeks of the season are nearly identical to his past nine games.

It's not all on Young, though. Statistics show the offensive line isn't doing enough in pass protection -- particularly center Bradley Bozeman, who ranks among the worst in the league with seven sacks allowed -- and wide receivers aren't getting open deep or creating consistent separation.

Let's take a closer look at some of Young's stats, per ESPN Stats & Information.

Sacked 44 times: That's second-most in the NFL this season behind Sam Howell of the Washington Commanders and appears to be the result of Young not getting the ball out quickly enough and poor blocking by the offensive line.

Young's average time before a pass is 2.89 seconds, 10th-longest. He has held onto the ball an average of 2.84 seconds when blitzed, sixth-longest.

Thirty of the sacks have come with no blitz, meaning teams are able to get pressure on Young without bringing extra bodies, so there are more defenders available to cover receivers. And 12.5% of the sacks have come in the red zone (third-highest rate behind Deshaun Watson and Wilson), a factor in Carolina ranking 29th in scoring at 15.9 points per game.

"As far as the protection, that goes into everything,'' Frazier said.

Overall, Carolina's pass block win rate is 52%, which ranks 25th.

9.3% off-target rate to open receivers: That ranks sixth-worst. This was considered Young's strength at Alabama, where he had good protection. Now he's often rushed due to the low pass block win rate.

It doesn't help that his receivers haven't been getting open -- Young has the lowest percentage of throws (38.1%) to open targets with three-plus yards of separation out of 34 quarterbacks with at least 150 pass attempts, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.

"The kid can play," said Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu ahead of Sunday's rematch. "He can throw the ball, he can move in the pocket. But when the offensive line breaks down and when the receiver runs the wrong route, that's not necessarily on him. But I do see as the season went on, he's gotten comfortable in certain situations."

48.5% red zone completion percentage: That ranks 27th. Young's percentage for the rest of the field is 62%, which ranks 29th. Accuracy was one of his strengths at Alabama, where he completed 65.8% of his passes.

5.4 yards per pass attempt: This would be the lowest season average by any quarterback (minimum of 300 attempts) since Blaine Gabbert (5.4) in 2011.

The spread offense Reich implemented and OC Brown continues to use has relied almost exclusively on short passes because the Panthers' receivers haven't been able to stretch the field deep.

Young's 8.9 yards per completion ranks last in the league and would be the third lowest by a quarterback in a season with a minimum of 200 completions since 2000.

31.3 QBR on play-action passes: That is third lowest behind Howell and Mac Jones of the New England Patriots.

Young has been intercepted on 6.3% of his play-action attempts, accounting for four of his nine picks. Only Jimmy Garoppolo of the Las Vegas Raiders is worse (10%). Young's play-action off-target rate is 20% (29th).

The Panthers put Young under center seven times for 13 plays in the first quarter of Sunday's 21-18 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and ran a lot of play-action to help slow the pass rush -- Young wasn't sacked in the first half.

"It was intentional, there's no denying that,'' Frazier said. "There's a lot of things under center and in your run game that we can do to help him. ... He's embraced that.''

In the second half, when they were playing from behind, the Panthers moved away from using Young under center -- he was sacked four times.

Carolina has the second-lowest play-action rate (15.3%) behind the Saints (9.4%). Of the six teams that use the least play-action, five rank 19th or worse in scoring, and three -- Carolina, Pittsburgh and the Jets -- rank lower than 28th.

"It's been a learning experience for sure,'' Young said. "Just being able to feel myself grow. Us, as a team go through it. Again, it's hard. It's not ideal. But you can still take away some positives from it.''

ESPN Saints reporter Katherine Terrell contributed to this story.