Good morning Panther faithful and welcome to the Monday Morning Optimist! You'll have to forgive me if I'm a little rusty writing one of these after a win; after all, the last time I wrote about a Panthers regular season victory in the MMO was on January 4th of this year... almost ten months ago!
Regardless, it was a truly wonderful win on Sunday. There wasn't just one contibuting factor, but rather the entire team looked completely different from the Carolina Panthers we'd seen in the first 5 games. Part of that is definitely Matt Moore, who energized the offense with a familiarity missing since the end of 2009, but more importantly were the widespread offensive changes and adjustments that went beyond the quarterback position. On offense it was truly addition by subtraction with taking Mackenzey Bernardeau off the OL and reshuffling allowed Moore to get a lot of time in the pocket, which it turn allowed the WRs to get separation, which as a result gave Moore targets and he executed.
Sure, I boiled it down to a mere sentence... but it's as simple as that. We have a tendency to over complicate football sometimes when in reality it's just about guys executing the plays called to the best of their ability. If everyone does their job then any play drawn up will work, but when guys can't execute the weaknesses of a play are revealed. So let's happily delve deeper into this game.
After the jump....
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and maybe all the Carolina Panthers needed was a week away from football to return hungrier and ready to make an impact. Couple that with numerous players leaving for the bye week on such a bad note (specifically thinking about Brandon LaFell's four drops) and they came back ready to make an impact. The same goes for Matt Moore who had a chip on his shoulder bigger than Smitty as he wanted to prove it was a mistake to bench him in favor of Jimmy Clausen.
Despite all these desires for redemption the Panthers success on Sunday came from a (somewhat) unlikely source. From 6th round pick, to possible camp casualty and now your #2 receiver, rookie David Gettis has continually proven than he is ready to become a factor in the future of the Carolina Panthers. This wasn't a day where Moore was required to make especially difficult throws, or put it only where Gettis could get it; rather, no.12 was running his routes so crisply that he got amazing amounts of separation which made Moore's job significantly easier. His end zone drop was a rookie mistake, but his overall fantastic play make a huge difference.
Concurrently, Brandon LaFell decided to play like the WR we knew he could be. The claim some had that he was over thinking the position could definitely be a viable excuse as his 6 reception, 91 yard performance looked nothing like forced, or unnatural. It was a beautiful thing to see and with LaFell standing on the bench at the end waiver his towel in the air on the final kickoff it looks like he's putting it all together.
Now it's time to break down the individual performances from Sunday's game.
David Gettis- Extremely Optimsitic: See above
Brandon LaFell- Extremely Optimsitic: See above
Matt Moore- Extremely Optimistic: I've made my point on the issue clear... and before someone asks- yes... if I could go back in time I would still have started Jimmy Clausen yesterday, purely for the fact it makes more sense in the long run. That being said, I'm certainly not going to throw a wet blanket on a fantastic performance from Matt Moore- the best we've seen from a QB this season. Other than a comically ugly interception on an intended throw away Moore looked great. If there's one thing that's really changed it's his ability to throw the ball away rather than force it. People chided Clausen for not gunslinging, but today Moore proved how valuable giving up on a play and living to fight another day can be. He put the ball where it needed to be and had good touch on his passes. Great game from Moore.
Offensive Line- Extremely Optimistic: The Gross/ Wharton/ Kalil/ Schwartz/ Williams line looks completely different. Purely empirically I would say they look a little more suited for pass blocking than run blocking, but that could be a product of poor RB play. They all had a great game.
John Kasay- Extremely Optimistic: Kasay proved yesterday the mistake that was made against the Saints a few weeks ago. An amazing 55 yard FG showed that Kasay still has it.
Mike Goodson- Extremely Optimistic: Goodson needed to find a role on this football team, and being a deadly KR weapon seems to be his niche. It was clear Goodson was ready to break 'the big one' every time he touched the football. It was a truly great game.
Steve Smith- Somewhat Optimistic: Smitty had some bad moments, but still finished with 50 yards receiving and a 7.6 yard PR average.
James Anderson- Somewhat Optimistic: Had a quiet, but effective day with 7 tackles and 2 passes defended.
Derek Landri- Somewhat Optimistic: Landri is the defenses David Gettis- a guy who stepped up and performed well. Though the stat line isn't wholly there he still had a sack and two QB hits.
Charles Johnson- Somewhat Optimistic: Almost as soon as I suggested benching Johnson and Brayton for Brown and Hardy came the game changing sack of Alex Smith. Really, Johnson broke this game for San Francisco, and without Smith in the game their chances were shot. For those keeping track.... Johnson still has as many sacks as Julius Peppers and has 2 more tackles.
DeAngelo Williams- Extremely Pessimistic: Just a poor day overall. It wont last for long, and surely this is temporary, but nevertheless a lost fumble and another near fumble coupled with a 2.3 ypc is poor overall.
Jonathan Stewart- Extremely Pessimistic: Neither member of double trouble did well and Stewart finished with just 2.1 ypc.
Announce Team- Extremely Pessimistic: Did everyone enjoy watching Stevie Smith, Dan Morgan and the rookie Mike Goodson? I know I did... what idiots.
There's some life left in them yet. Part of me want to throw myself down and kawtow to the football gods, but this is the same team who looked mighty good against New Orleans and then let us down again. So while I'm very optimsitic, I'm also tempering too much enthusiasm
70% optimistic heading into the Halloween game vs. St. Louis