I must be a glutton for punishment because we're moving on to Week 5 of the Panthers 2010 regular season match-up against the Chicago Bears. I always hold out hope that on Sunday, the boys in the black and blue will turn it around. I definitely set myself up for disappointment this week. If you happened to turn the TV on just a few minutes late, the Panthers were already down 17-3. Jimmy Clausen technically was brought down five times. For the sake of relative brevity (or my sanity) I'm going to pick two of them to go over here. Of the three that I am omitting, one was Clausen trying to run and just barely not making it back to the line of scrimmage; another was a heads up play by Chicago LB Lance Briggs knowing how to manipulate and attack the pass protection; and the last sack of the game was a speed rush that RT Geoff Schwartz could not keep up with.
Towards the end of the first quarter, the scoreboard already reflected the disastrous start to this game. A false start penalty against Panthers TE Jeff King was the inauspicious beginning to an offensive drive that saw the team move backwards seven yards before punting. After the predictable and quickly diagnosed run on 1st and 15, Jimmy drops back to pass. Let's take a closer look at what breaks down... after the jumpSack #1
Score: 17-3, Bears
Yard: Own 17 yard line
Formation: Offset-I formation, 2 WR, 1TE
Defensive Front: 4 man front, no blitz
Pass Protection Report:
LT Jordan Gross: Familiar rival Julius Peppers is lined wide outside Gross' left shoulder. Peppers tries running upfield but Gross displays excellent footwork to keep up. Peppers tries to come back down field but Gross reacts and adjusts, redirecting Peppers away from the play, almost back to the line of scrimmage.
LG Travelle Wharton: Wharton and his DT crash together and separate, neither gaining an upper hand on the first attempt. The DT tries again, but Wharton is prepared. Wharton is pushed backwards slightly. It's not until after Clausen fumbles that the DT disengages, scrambling for the ball.
C Ryan Kalil and RG Mackenzy Bernadeau: Double up on the other DT. At first Kalil pushes him away with force. The DT tries to run by Bernadeau instead but is repelled there as well.
RT Geoff Schwartz: Schwartz is not the fastest off the line and isn't able to keep up with the speed rushing DE who brings Jimmy down for the sack. He tries to hang on, but if he tried any longer, I'm confident it would have resulted in a holding penalty.
Gross, Kalil, Bernadeau and Wharton handle their assignments relatively well.
Jimmy Clausen has TE Jeff King and FB Tony Fiametta running shallow routes along the flat to each side. Both had more than enough room to throw the ball to and pick up 3-6 yards. Jimmy was mostly looking for the two WRs David Gettis and Brandon LaFell who both ran comeback routes but where completely blanketed by zone coverage.
Geoff Schwartz is a player that has filled in admirably for this team at different positions on the line. Based on what I have seen, though, he is not a good fit at RT. He is slow to come off the line and appears vulnerable to a speed rush, as is the case on this play.
Even with the quick pressure allowed by Schwartz, Clausen had two receivers in Jeff King and Tony Fiametta who were left alone in the flat. The zone coverage was not covering anything short. They wouldn't have picked up more than 3-6 yards but on 2nd and 13 if your WRs are blanketed I think you try and make a play for position and live to fight another down. Taking the sack and losing the football (although, recovered by Geoff Schwartz at least) is the last thing we needed. It forced the team into 3rd and impossible. Sacked!
Score: 17-6, Bears
Yard: Own 49 yard line
Formation: I formation, two receivers left
Defensive Front: 4 man front, 2 blitz
Pass Protection Report:
LT Jordan Gross:With Peppers on the sideline for this play, Gross locks up with #98 a few yards upfield. Gross easily stays with his man and keeps him far from the play.
LG Travelle Wharton: This is the first time in the plays I've reviewed so far that I've seen a DT get the best of Travelle Wharton. I think he might be expecting a bull rush, so he shoves in front of him but the DT shifts outside Wharton's left shoulder and begins to enter the pocket.
C Ryan Kalil: After snapping the ball, Kalil begins to shift, opening up his body to the left side of the line. He observes Wharton's assignment slipping through and moves to intercept and keep the DT out of the play.
RG Mackenzy Bernadeau: The DT is lined up between Bernadeau and Kalil and begins chasing after Kalil after the snap. Bernadeau shoves him from behind and essentially rides him down to the ground. I don't know enough about the game technically to understand the techniques involved with linemen, but it certainly looks odd. If anyone knows more, please feel free to chime in!
RT Geoff Schwartz: The DE lined up outside Schwartz's right shoulder tries to rush inside his left shoulder. Schwartz adjust appropriately, making contact and taking his man down to the ground.
RB DeAngelo Williams: Takes on one of the strong side blitzers and holds him at the point of contact for a good while until losing him to a spin move just as the sack occurs.
FB Tony Fiametta: Runs up to the point of contact with the 2nd strong side blitzer. Just before contact, the blitzer subtly fakes a move to the right, then uses his arms to easily push away from Fiametta and run left, practically uncontested to bring Jimmy down for the sack.
Pretty much the entire offensive line, other than Wharton, and DeAngelo Williams handle their assignments really well.
Jimmy doesn't have a lot of time, but at the end of his drop he should have gotten rid of the ball. He had one obvious choice and two less obvious but more ambitious choices.
FB Tony Fiametta shows his inexperience here. Very weak at the point of attack, I'm pretty sure I could have swung past him on this play. ... okay, maybe not. Still, though, I would have liked to see a more aggressive block coming from our FB.
I could really see Jimmy throwing to any of the receivers on this play. WR Brandon LaFell is split wide left with TE Gary Barnidge in the slot. TE Jeff King is on the line next to Geoff Schwartz. The most obvious choice on this play is Jeff King who is wide open along the sideline. While Clausen doesn't have a lot of time to read the field, King was open by the time he reached the end of his drop. LaFell is running a deep in-route and while it would have taken a considerable amount of anticipation on Jimmy's part, he could have thrown it to the empty area in the field and let LaFell run to it. Barnidge would have been the toughest throw by far, but there was a small window inside the defense where Clausen could have thrown a jump ball for the athletic TE. He doesn't have the time to read the whole field and doesn't make the quick decision to get rid of the ball while he can. Sacked!