By Jaxon: Hat tip to James the Aussie for his pick-me-up post for those of us still disappointed the Panthers lost to the Falcons yesterday. His full post begins below:
Good morning everyone, and welcome to the Monday Morning Optimist. I’m going to look at the things we can be excited about regarding yesterday’s game as well as some areas of concern or the ‘pessimistic’ areas of our game. I will be rating performances with a rather rudimentary system of ‘Very optimistic’ and ‘Somewhat optimistic’ on the other side it will be ‘Very pessimistic’ and ‘Somewhat pessimistic’. At the end of the breakdown I will give the week’s game a percentage of whether we should be optimistic or pessimistic heading into next week’s game. As always, you’re comments, discussion and arguments are always welcome.
Offensive Line- Very Optimistic: They were the primary difference makers on the offense yesterday. They returned to their pro-bowl form and other than a few bad false starts the really anchored the offense. Good push on both rushing and passing opening good holes for D-Will and J-Stew. Also, the results are clear what Jake can do with a pocket. Very good signs for the O-line.
Offensive Play Calling- Very Optimistic: We had a gameplan that played to our player’s strengths! Imagine that! A good mix and run and pass, a lot of play action, some nice east/west runs mixed in with our power game. We kept Atlanta guessing for a lot of the game and while we could finish stronger in the red zone, what we did see was very encouraging.
Jake Delhomme- Very Optimistic: It was going to be easy for Jake to get this rating. He just needed to improve from last week, and he sure did improve. Other than the INT at the end of the game (which was more like a calculated punt) he had a QB rating over 100. There were a few shaky moments (attempting to throw out of bounds in the 3rd quarter almost getting picked) but overall his decision making was far better. More throws were safely lofted out of bounds than forced; he had better movement in the pocket and showed very nice touch on some long gains.
Dante Rosario- Somewhat Optimistic: He still can’t block to save his life, but someone in the open thread called him ‘The Ghost of Wesley Walls’; this couldn’t be more true. Great move to get the TD in the 4th quarter and overall crisp play.
D-Will and J-Stew- Somewhat Optimistic: They did what we knew they could. There wasn’t a lot of pessimism regarding their play, so not really any big strides in their rating. We got to see what they can do with proper blocking, and the results were good.
Richard Marshall- Somewhat Optimistic: He gets this… but only barely. His INT and FF were just enough to keep him out of being pessimistic, because overall his coverage on the day was pretty poor
Captain Munnerlyn- Somewhat Optimistic: Didn’t get a higher grade just because I think the jury is still out. The kid is looking really good though, his tackling is crisp, he’s flying to the ball and made some good defensive decisions. As a PR he needs to have some more confidence, but if that’s the biggest knock on the kid then we’re in good shape.
Special Teams- Very Pessimistic: Can special teams cost a team a game? Yes, yes they can. Utter failure from top to bottom. No coverage on kickoffs, a blocked punt, continual short field for our defense… a pathetic performance.
Defensive Playcalling- Very Pessimistic: We held Michael Turner in check… that’s about the only positive thing you can say. We allowed Tony Gonzalez to carve up our zone all day, with two TEs in pass protection Roddy White still got open. For a ‘bend but don’t break defense’ we bent, and we broke. Some of it is on the players, but the lack of pressure was laughable.
Julius Peppers- Very Pessimistic: He’s being paid to be the best DE in the league. He is our standout player on defense. It’s simply unacceptable for him to be completely absent. He has one job, rush the passer. Pep got no penetration most of the game, when he did he still didn’t get a lick on the QB and was able to be single blocked all game. This is not the performance we need from an all pro DE… he needs to be better.
Chris Gamble- Somewhat Pessimistic: If we are paying him to be a #1 shutdown corner, then he needs to be a #1 shutdown corner. If the problem is the zone defense, then it may fall back on Meeks, because in man coverage Gamble always used to be involved in the play, not 10 yards away.
Defensive Line- Somewhat Pessimistic: The DTs played well most of the game. They stuffed the run and Lewis made some good plays. Sadly, it broke down when we needed it the most in the 4th quarter and they allowed Turner to get going. The injury to Leonard hurts us too.
This was an infinitely better game for the Panthers. We should hold our heads high. The defense was horrible, as were special teams but we were playing one of the better teams in the NFC. We have all the pieces; we just need to put it all together in Dallas. If yesterday’s game was a symbolic ‘must win’ then next week’s game is a literal one. We have to win in Dallas if we hope to have any shot this season.
Final grade: 65% Optimistic heading into Dallas.