Its the DoC again. Sorry, I've been a bit of no show over here. I've been stressing over my beloved Braves this past week and finally they clinched a playoff spot. But this is about football and so it's time to talk about it. Week 4 had the Panthers pitted against the defending champion Saints. Despite the loss, I took alot of positives from this game. More after the jump....
The score. I believe going into this game the Panthers were 14 point underdogs. That's when you know how bad a team has been playing. But Carolina brought their A-game. They hung in there and despite their best efforts they came up short 16-14. I know I wasn't expecting that close of a game but they made a statement. No matter what their record says, Carolina will not be pushovers or an easy win by any means. They are a tough bunch.
The return of Smash and Dash....well almost. DeAngelo Williams ripped off a nice touchdown run that gave the Panthers their second (and sadly last) score of the game. It wasn't so much the distance he ran but what he did to make it happen. Instead of running into the welcoming committee of Saints defenders, Williams cut back and took it the other way. Granted, you had to see it from the replay behind the backfield to really appreciate what happened here but either way, it was a thing of beauty. Jonathan Stewart held rookie Jimmy Clausen get his first TD pass as a pro with a 55 yard connection. I still can't believe how open he was!! I'm just glad he kept his feet. Word to opposing defenses: he not only runs but he can catch too!
The emergence of a second receiver? I think David Gettis is making a strong case for himself as the number two WR opposite Steve Smith. His catch on 4th and 4 was amazing and he has had some nice grabs over the past couple of games. With Smith being absent this week against Chicago, Gettis has the chance to show why he needs to be the everyday starter. Look for Gettis and LaFell to make up the starting wideout combo for Week 5.
Clausen stepping up. He was a bit shaky in the opening series and rightfully so with the crowd noise the way it was. It hurt to see two timeouts burned so quickly in the opening quarter but the second was a necessary evil to avoid the delay of game penalty. What I liked was Clausen did settle down and make some good throws. He made a really good one to David Gettis on the above mentioned 4th and 4 play. I just wish he had one more in him that would have allowed for Kasay to try for a game winning FG. He's getting better every week and I think John Fox was smart for giving him the start last week.
Offensive line. I'm going to give these guys some love. Some of you are like "what the hell?" But let me explain my position. Yes, they haven't held blocks the way we're accustomed to seeing but they made some good ones for the two scoring drives (look at how long those things were) and I felt that Clausen wasn't pressured the way he was last week. Additionally, everyone talks about the shakiness of the line but remember we played the Giants to open the season and they weren't especially sharp in that game. However, this week the Giants lit up the Chicago offensive line and sacked Cutler ten times (nine of which were in the first half). So whenever we find ourselves doubting the effectiveness of the line, remember it could be a lot worse.
All in all, I think the Panthers are getting better and are putting it together. I doubt they will have a winning record at season's end but with this youth movement they can only get better. I will say this...I'm confident we will see the playoffs well before the Detroit Lions do.