I know it's only preseason but...
...we've got a LONG way to go.
This is the first in a series of posts I hope to do after each preseason game, and I may continue it into the regular season if it's successful. I took notes throughout the game and these are the 'Big Hits' (the most important things to look at following the game). I didn't hit on everything, especially because a lot of the These are strong opinions and it's early, so feel free to take them with a spoonful of salt. But I feel that these are pretty dead on. Dispute them at your peril.
- DWill was his old self in the short time he was on the field. Expect much of the same from him and JStew this year.
- The starting O-Line looked out of sync for the most part, but it's expected because it's so early in the year. I expect them to be fine with Otah back in the regular season.
- Backup O-line was as porous as advertised. Let's hope we can keep our starters as healthy as possible. Perhaps there are some projects: diamonds in the rough.
- Sutton and Vaughn looked good. Not good enough to be second string RB's, but decent enough to make the team. Sutton shows promise if he stops shifting around in the backfield with the ball and just hits a hole and keeps moving forward. Reminds me of a rookie DWill actually.
- I was really disappointed by our Wide Receivers. To be honest, I thought D. Jarrett looked the best out of all of them. I don't know if that's good or bad. It's only one preseason game, but based off of what I saw, he looks like the front runner for the number 2 spot.
- Kenny Moore looked good too, made a great catch in traffic, looks to be the front runner for the slot position.
- You can see Lafell's promise, but he needs to show it on the field in a game. He's not ready yet.
- A. Edwards looks to be a year long project before he makes any sort of significant impact. I don't even know if he'll be able to cut it as a return man this year.
- Claussen is as polished a rookie QB as I have seen in some time. I honestly believe he could step in as a rookie and be a serviceable QB. Made some good throws. He may be a total jerk in the eyes of some, but he has that "it" quality of determination and cockiness that you need to be a big time QB. I'm excited about this kid. Moore may have to have a Pro Bowl type season to keep Jimmy off the field next year.
- Moore made some over throws that were his fault, but to be honest, the offensive line didn't really give him much of an opportunity to showcase himself in the short time he was out there. The Ravens starting D did NOT go with a vanilla scheme. They did quite a few blitzes against our ones. I'm not worried about M. Moore yet.
- I can see why the team is so big on Cantwell. He has one hell of an arm. Definitely the best of all our QB's. But it's clear he doesn't have the polish or intangibles that Claussen has. I'd be surprised if Pike beats him out for the 3rd spot though, because another team would pick up Cantwell based on his arm strength alone. Look for Cantwell to be Jimmy's back up next year after we trade Moore in the offseason. You heard it here first.
- Brayton was our only starting D-Lineman that showed something out there. I fully expect him to be a starter all year.
- C. Johnson looks like a serviceable DE on the other side, but I don't think he will be anything more than that. He's just serviceable. Nothing special.
- It's just one preseason game, but E. Brown looks like a bust out there. He didn't do anything. Not on D. He missed a tackle on ST. He was manhandled by their starting OT.
- We need to make sure to take everything we saw of G. Hardy with a big grain of salt. It's preseason, and he was playing against their backup O Line. That being said, he looked like an absolute man possessed out there. He must be playing with the biggest chip on his shoulder in the world. He did NOT look like a 6th round draft choice, and he knows he's a legitimate starter in the NFL. He was getting consistent penetration, and was getting to the QB, not just pressuring him. The most important thing that I saw from him though, was that he finished plays. He's fast and strong enough to make an impact on the running game and looked a LOT like Julius Peppers did against the run when he actually felt like playing. Again, BIG grain of salt. The coaching staff needs to see what he can do against a starting O-line, but if I'm a coach, after that one game, G. Hardy would be starting opposite Brayton at DE.
- Our defensive tackles looked pretty awful. No penetration whatsoever against Baltimore's starting O-line. Ed Johnson looks too slow. The Panthers need to be genuinely concerned about their DT situation. The media has been harping on it, and we fans have been trying to say that it will be okay with T. Tyler and L. Leonard and/or whomever, but we need to take off the rose colored lenses and realize that we may not make the playoffs or even go over .500 with the DT situation being what it is. We clearly made the right choice in choosing Claussen in the second round, because he looks like a franchise caliber QB, but an overweight T. Cody right now, is better than anything we have at DT. Just saying.
- The jury is still out for our linebacker lineup situation. It's hard to tell just yet if Beason at WLB is going to be better for the team or not. He's clearly our best defensive player, so I think it's best to put him wherever he's most efficient (MLB), and then plug up the other holes best you can. Connor looked serviceable at MLB, nothing too special. J. Anderson didn't look good at all this game. Again, it's early, but it looks as if we're going to need penetration from our DT's much more with T. Davis out. The Panthers have to be praying that Davis can play in the last quarter of the season.
- Norwood showed some flashes in the time that he was on the field and he looked pretty fast out there. Also showed a knack for getting to the football. He may be a bit too raw, but he could find himself in a starting role at OLB later on in the season. Look for him to be effective in passing downs, as it seems that that is how he will be utilized most this season.
- The starting secondary didn't really impress, but they didn't stink up the place. Again, they're only going to be as effective as our pass rush. We went with a fairly vanilla defensive scheme against the Ravens and didn't really do too much blitzing, but Meeks is really going to have to use an effective blitz scheme if we want to win games. Otherwise we may be allowing scores in bunches.
- It appeared Munnerlyn got a little shove in the back on the touchdown against him. If the NFL is going to call any sort of little contact that the defensive player does against a Wide Out, then they should be doing the same against the Wide Receiver. The fact is, if Munnerlyn wanted to prevent that touchdown, he would have had to have placed a hand on the receiver and I can guarantee it would have gotten called. Again, another reason we need to put pressure on the QB to have an effective pass defense.
- I really don't put any credence into what the backup secondary did or didn't do. It turned into a wet, sloppy game against their backups, so nothing to read into.
- E. Moore and Ivy looked decent out there, but again, it was against backups in a sloppy second half, and they will have to contribute more on ST's if they want to stick with the team.
- Bad. Pretty terrible. And just plain awful.
- Again, it's early days, and I would say, of the three phases of the game, special teams requires the most practice and polish to get right, but it doesn't look like we've made any progress from last season. Perhaps it wasn't Crossman after all. Ugh.
- The game last night also affirmed my thought that letting go of Rhys Lloyd was probably our worst offseason move. Really? You want to save one million dollars? Lloyd was the only reason we didn't lead the league in kickoff returns for touchdowns last season. We could be in trouble.
- On a positive note, Baker appeared to be in Pro Bowl form.
- Claussen looks legit and it will take a big push from Moore to fend him off for the starting spot next season.
- Our rookie WR's are RAW, to say the least.
- D. Jarrett has a real opportunity to have a break out year. It's now or never.
- G. Hardy could be a starter in game one this year.
- E. Brown doesn't look like he's worth the trade.
- Our DT position is obviously our weakest position.
- Beason at WLB may not be the best idea.
- Our special teams has lots of work to do.
- We currently do not have an answer for the loss of Rhys Lloyd.
- It's early, but we've got a long way to go before week one. On the bright side, this means lots of room for improvement, plenty of tape to go over, and plenty of things to work on for the remainder of the offseason. The key is just improving each week.
Projected record based on play up to now: 7-9