ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 16: Michael Turner #33 of the Atlanta Falcons carries the ball against James Anderson #50 of the Carolina Panthers at the Georgia Dome on October 16, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
As I scratch through the box score looking for something positive to write about I was stopped short in my search with this statement from Ron Rivera in a piece by Steve Reed:
"We have to look at the defense that we’re playing and the players that are doing it and how we can better maximize our personnel with the calls," Rivera said. "We have a lot to look at and a lot to learn and grow with. And as I get a chance to evaluate that and look at that and sit down with (defensive coordinator) Sean (McDermott) and the rest of the defensive coaches, we’ll make decisions in terms of who plays and what we play."
I think Reed correctly interprets this as saying the Panthers have 'no choice but to get better', meaning don't expect some charmed free agent to come in and rescue this defense. If they are going to perform better they will have reach within and play at a higher level. The coaches have to coach better, the players have to make plays.
I think DE Charles Johnson might also be on to something:
Added defensive end Charles Johnson: "We didn’t play up to our potential today. We’ve got to get back to the drawing board. We didn’t get to him (Matt Ryan) like we wanted to. But it comes down to fundamentals. We’re not doing what we’re supposed to do."
I would have to agree the Panthers were missing some basic fundamentals in stopping Turner on those stretch plays to the outside. The DE's were getting sealed off and the LB's were a step too slow to the edge. Throw in a failure to wrap up and you have Run Stopping 101 rules being violated just about every running play.
Though the schedule seems to get easier for a few games, as Reed points out the Panthers still have some top notch RB still on the schedule. I shudder at the thought of seeing what Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson will do to this defense if they don't get a grasp on the fundamentals real soon. They don't have a choice.