Making a Case to Start Panthers Greg Hardy

In our 4th defensive series, with the game still scoreless, at the 12:14 mark of the 2Q, St. Louis has it 1and10 on our 25. Brayton gets sucked in, losing contain on his RDE side, and Jackson easily gets the corner turned for a 14 yd gain. Two plays later, he again lets Jackdon turn the corner, but is bailed out by Beason and Godfrey coming up for the tackle, and more so by an Offensive Holding penalty, nullifying their gain. Nonetheless, they soon kick a FG to go up 0-3.

On the next series, at the 5:44 mark of the Q2, we’ve got them 3and12 at our 43. A stop here would probably force a punt. But Brayton jumps Offside, making it 3and7, and they’re able to complete a pass for an 8yd gain, keeping their drive alive. On 2andGoal from our 6, Brayton misses a tackle behind the LOS, allowing a 4 yd pass to be completed, ending in a TD the next play, making the score 0-10.

My contention is that Brayton’s errors was instrumental in both their early scores. Had he played sharper, we could’ve been up 3-0 at the half, instead of down 3-10.

All told, Brayton played, by my count, 36 snaps at RDE, another 6 at RDT, and 1 at NG in an unusual 3 man rush we used. He made only 2 tackles and 1 QB pressure, being a non-factor the other plays.

As a contrast, Greg Hardy saw action on only 8 snaps (other than the ST work he sees), was double-teamed 3 times, and made 1 tackle. Nothing special this game, but hardly enough action to get a rhythm going. But no mistakes, either.

Last year, Brayton was very effective on run containment, from the LDE spot, but this year, that position has been conceded to Charles Johnson, so they’ve switched Brayton to the right side, where he’s unsuited, IMO. Every game, the opposing offense breaks a good sized run to their left side, and it succeeds largely because he’s easily pinched to the inside, unable to contain the cut to the outside. Hardy reacts to running plays much faster than Brayton, and I wish we’d see more of him at RDE. I think he’d generate more sack pressure (Brayton has none, and only 9 total tackles on the season!), and defend runs better, too.

It’s not as if Meeks is opposed to change, as he started Nick Hayden, in place of Ed Johnson, last week, and Johnson had played just as well.

If they start Brayton again tomorrow at RDE, keep an eye on him, and see if he improves. If they break one to the left, outside, replay it and watch how he played it. I think the runner keys off him.

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