Good morning Panther faithful and welcome to the Monday Morning Optimist. Well, that game wasn't quite what I expected... mainly because I didn't think we were going to score a touchdown. Thankfully David Gettis came through blowing by his man allowing for an 88 yard pitch and catch TD; I just realized there was a fair amount of unintended innuendo in that last sentence, my apologies for that.
In the end Brian St. Pierre proved to be a blessing only to those hoping the Ravens would make the -10 spread as he threw back-to-back interception TDs in the fourth quarter. Sure, the aforementioned TD to Gettis was nice, but if you completely take the good and bad plays out of the equation he finished with a comical 12/25, 87 yards. Yet again poor QB play was par for the course for the Carolina Panthers and despite the late interceptions in a sign of complete apathy and malaise head coach John Fox decided to keep rookie Tony Pike on the bench, despite pulling quarterbacks for much smaller sins earlier in the season.
Despite the poor play of the QB it was the running game that for the second week in a row was very impressive. Mike Goodson finished with 120 yards, including a 45 yard run. If Goodson can work more on his ball security he's definitely becoming the kind of player who can make an impact on this team. I think it's unfair to put his success solely on the OL, he's just playing better than DeAngelo Williams or Jonathan Stewart have in any game this season.
In the end it was an ugly 37-13 loss, but there were some bright spots that should be acknowledged, so join me
After the jump...
This is normally the point where I would discuss the coaching decisions, or the game plan- perhaps ridicule some bad moves, but in the end it's difficult to do this when the same missteps are there week in week out. One area that I could say there was improvement in was the first half tendency to work with a shot passing game and running the ball out of passing formations. It worked very well up to the point where Briant St. Pierre was required to make any plays with his arm, and at that point a combination of badly placed passes and bad receiving efforts railroaded any opportunity of decent drives.
Carolina were 1-13 on third down, and 1-8 when St. Pierre was required to throw for a third down. The only conversion he had was the 88 yard TD to Gettis. It was pretty bad.
Most astonishingly were the personnel decisions by the Carolina Panthers. Choosing to activate both David Clowney and Devin Thomas only to attempt a wildcat play with Mike Goodson makes so sense to me. Is Armanti Edwards really that much of a step down from Clowney or Thomas? In the very least you have some options on offense and seeing Edwards active sends a message to the Ravens, after all, it was John Harbaugh who said earlier in the week to Baltimore press when asked about Edwards:
"Yeah, well I remember... Wasn't he the guy that had the win against Michigan? Yeah, pretty talented guy. We don't know much about him, but that is a wild card. We'll probably have to be ready for some wildcat-type stuff."
Nope, no worries John... no wild card in Charlotte. Just bring some sprinkles and we'll supply the vanilla.
I could keep waxing on some more head scratchers regarding the personnel, but in the end it's nothing we haven't said before: "Why isn't Greg Hardy playing more?", "Why isn't player X benched?" etc.
So, without further ado let's get on with the individual player rankings.
Mike Goodson- Extremely Optimistic: He really is playing fantastic football right now despite the rest of the team being so abysmal. The Ravens are the NFL's 11th best run defense allowing 118 yards per game, and Goodson's 120 alone eclipsed that. Simply put: He's doing more with less against better teams than either member of Double Trouble have been able to in 2010.
Charles Johnson- Extremely Optimistic: Some may remember than in the wake of the Julius Peppers situation I said that Charles Johnson would surprise some people this year and would lessen the void left by Peppers. I think that this season has led people to miss Peppers a little more than he deserves to be, because Johnson with his 7 tackles, 1 sack and QB hit is giving me hope for a rejuvenated Panthers DL in 2011, with our next two players.
Everette Brown- Extremely Optimistic: Brown must have been reading the open thread early when someone asked if it was time to consider him a bust. Brown was aways going to be a slow burn being an undersized 4-3 DE and being young (he's the same age as Jimmy Clausen right now). 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF... he now has two sacks in two weeks and is starting to show glimmers of the dominance we saw in the 2010 preseason.
Greg Hardy- Extremely Optimistic: Another young DE who makes waves whenever he's on the field. 3 tackles, two for a loss and 1 sack. The thing about these three mentioned DEs is that they were performing well against one of the best OLs in the NFL. With some support from some solid DTs through draft and free agency we will be a much improved pass rushing team in 2011.
David Gettis- Extremely Optimistic: Gettis is the future... there... I said it. David Gettis has shown me enough that I believe he's the future of this team at the WR position. That doesn't mean Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards aren't in that equation, because they are... but Gettis is the kind of receiver who makes things happen. Yes, it took a well placed throw to result in the TD, but most of that was David Gettis getting open.
Captain Munnerlyn- Extremely Optimistic: One of the few good players in coverage and a great KR gives him props.
Jordan Pugh- Extremely Optimistic: Right now to me he's making a strong case to supplant Charles Godfrey at safety. He plays the ball very well in the air when he plays.
BILLS WIN!- Universally Optimistic: If we're going to be terrible, then we might as well get a reward. Right now we sit alone as the worst in the NFL. The consolation prize is getting to take the best QB, CB, WR or DT in the draft.
Richard Marshall- Extremely Pessimistic: Honestly, he might as well look for real estate in Pessimist Corner because he's here most weeks. Marshall is consistently losing his man. Sure, he has 8 tackles... but that's because he's always playing catchup.
Devin Thomas- Extremely Pessimistic: Glad he was activated. Two mediocre kick returns and a dropped pass... awesome.
David Clowney- Extremely Pessimistic: Again... why was he active?
Jon Beason- Somewhat Pessimistic: This is extremely unfamiliar territory, but since moving back to the middle Beast has been distinctly mediocre. Yes, he had 9 tackles... but many of those came in easy plays and he's not really making a huge impact.
ST coverage- Somewhat Pessimistic: Allowed 19 yard per KR for three of the four, but the 84 yard return was a backbreaker.
Defensive Tackles- Somewhat Pessimistic: Though they made a play here or there, Nick Hayden and Derek Landri combined for just 6 tackles. They are a big reason the linebackers and secondary are getting stretched so much on running downs.
At the time of this writing John Fox has announced that Jimmy Clausen will start provided he's able to against Cleveland. In my mind the goals of 2010 are the same as they were in week 3; learn as much about your young talent as possible and put the new coaches in the best position to evaluate the current guys so they can make informed decisions on draft day. If John Fox can't deal with that then he needs to be fired. I am slightly disappointed that Jake Delhomme wont be playing against us, but at least we should get some fun: Jimmy Clausen v. Colt McCoy media this week.
15% optimistic heading into the game vs. the Browns
This week's music: Listened to 'Muse' while writing this week.