CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11: Julio Jones #11 of the Atlanta Falcons stretches for the go ahead touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
It's always nice to hear any player acknowledge his mistakes and how they impacted a game's outcome; especially when it's a rookie QB. It's part of the maturation process:
"Both interceptions were my fault and you can't do that," Newton said. "If you expect to win in this league, you have to protect the football. I did a poor job in doing that today. Without those two picks, the team would have had a better chance of winning today."
A better chance indeed. The first was about as ugly as any we saw Jimmy Clausen throw last season:
"I tried to get the ball to Stew and tried to avoid the sack," he said. "I should have just ate the ball and taken the sack."
HC Ron Rivera obviously isn't going to be too hard on the young phenom but he didn't necessarily let him off the hook either:
"At times we try so hard to make plays," said Panthers coach Ron Rivera. "With his kind of athletic ability, and who he is as a football player who wants to win, sometimes we get outside of ourselves and try to make it happen. This is one he'll learn from. He will watch it on tape and will see what to correct and he will get it corrected."
More after the jump...
I always feel sorry for coaches who really have nothing new to say, no magical explanation as to why the losses are piling up. Instead wisdom and experience tells them to keep it short and sweet:
"We still have a long ways to go as a football team," coach Ron Rivera said. "We are a young team that has to understand you have to keep going and put the foot down on the accelerator, which we didn't do."
So is that a slight allusion to the fact the Panthers play calling suddenly got real conservative at the end of the 1st half? Did that carry over to the 2nd half? I have to agree with those that thought we should have been running the ball more in the 3rd quarter. Yet only hindsight provides the clarity of knowing the young QB had lost his mojo for the time being. He has proven in the past to have the ability to make big plays down field at any point in a game. I think our young OC Rob Chudzinski might also be guilty of losing confidence in the running game just as we need it most. On the other hand the offensive line was a total mess by the 4th quarter so maybe he was trying to compensate? In end all you can do is grin bear it and hope for the better next week.
Two other players are taking some grief from this loss and Rivera addressed one of those that I think will make some of us happy:
Olindo Mare, just as he'd done against Minnesota, pushed a potential go-ahead kick wide left.
"You can't do that; you really can't," Rivera said. Rivera said he planned to sit down with Mare — who was given a four-year, $12 million contract this offseason — to talk about what's wrong. "It's the second one he's hooked left, pretty much from almost the same area (on the field)," Rivera said.
So how do you tell a kicker that he better not hook another one when it really counts without putting undue pressure on him? I'll let Rivera figure that out. I am glad to hear he is going to address it but don't expect any changes until the offseason (if at all).
The second guy is CB Darius Butler who was on coverage for both of Julio Jones TDs. Butler admitted fault on those plays but also added that he prevented just as many catches as he allowed:
"You know, they were coming at me a few times with Julio," Butler said. "They like that matchup. I made some plays early, and he made some big plays late. You've got to hold up. That's the name of the game. You got to finish it out."
They liked it so much they came back to it time and again in spite of not getting the completions early. I know many of us had hoped that maybe Butler could be the #2 CB we've needed. A career one game does not make but this was not a good measuring stick for Butler. I thought he made good plays on the ball early, even on the 1st TD to Jones he was right there. But missing the tackle on the 2nd one, that has been a sin we have seen way too much in our 2011 secondary.
In the end you have to go back to the Newton turnovers and the main stat I would like to throw away as coincidence...or its a team game and one man can't win it by himself. True...but he sure can lose it by himself.