Good morning Panther faithful! Really, what is there to say about last night's game? It was a complete and utter debacle in the trenches which in turn made everything else look a lot worse that it really was. Of course, we have cause to be extremely concerned, calling the defense 'pedestrian' last night would be the understatement of the century, but really it came down to two positions: DT and DE.
Kentwan Balmer was a nice addition, but he's not going to be the answer to this problem. The DT spot was neglected for too many years to find a replacement overnight. Less than three weeks ago I wrote about need to solve the position long term, so unfortunately we'll be enduring the mismanagement of the DL for time to come. However, while the building of the DL occurs they need to bolster the position greatly. Given the circumstances Sione Fua is doing alright, for a rookie NT he's having more good snaps than bad ones, and he's holding the point of attack as well as he can. The story next to him is very different, and it's telling how the coaching staff are grasping at straws trying to find an under tackle worth a damn; we saw a mix of Fua/Irvin, Fua/McClain, Fua/Neblett... all in a vain attempt to find a combination that worked, and they never did.
Across from Charles Johnson is another huge area of concern. I, like most of you hope that Greg Hardy is the answer when he returns from injury, but the truth is we should probably prepare ourselves that it's not going to be all champagne and roses even with the Kracken in the lineup. He's a second year player who has his own issues against the run who isn't used to seeing starting caliber tackles, it will take some time. Last night showed us why being hasty in cuts can bite you, because Tyler Brayton would have been able to hold the edge yesterday in the run game, something neither Everette Brown, nor Eric Norwood could do.
More after the jump
Sometimes I impress even myself... I managed to wait until all the way after the jump to type 'Cam Newton', so here's my time to shine! Sorry if it offends, but I'm not pulling any punches- if in the last 12 hrs you are a Carolina Panthers fan (or heck, even just a football fan) and mentioned the terms 'bust' or 'Andrew Luck' regarding Cam Newton then you have absolutely no understanding of football, you just don't... the knowledge level isn't there and you need to spend more time analyzing and less time typing. Harsh? Sure... but it's true.
As crazy as it sounds last night was the best we've seen Cam Newton, and before you 'rabble, rabble' over it and point out stats let me tell you what I saw last night that I didn't see in games one or two:
- Cam was actively trying to plant his feet and drive the passes through, rather than rocking back. Were there times he faltered and regressed to bad habits? Sure... but keep in mind he's likely never had a OL pushed back into him physically when he's trying to throw.; such is the life of a spread offense QB. It wasn't until he had a body bumping into him that he threw off his back foot, which is an improvement over the 1st and 2nd game when he threw back-footed when he didn't need to.
- Newton went through his full progressions last night (sans the checkdowns). Previously I've seen him go through two reads at the most before throwing too early, last night he truly went through every single read before choosing to throw or run. This was a major leap forward.
- He started reacting to real pressure, rather than perceived pressure. In weeks one and two he had a tendency to throw too quickly rather than let routes develop because he felt a pass rush that weren't close enough to warrant a change in reads. Last night Cam held onto the ball and extended plays as much as he possibly could before making the decision to throw or run. It's this skill that separates the Ben Roethlisberger's from the Jimmy Clausen's- having the confidence to stand in the pocket and throw the ball knowing you'll take a hit. Instead of rolling out and looking for an outlet, or throwing it away, he stood tall and delivered passes downfield.
- Knowing when to run was another area that stood out. Cam is not a running QB, he's a QB who can run and to me that delineation is extremely promising. He took off only when he had to, and looked more to try and find a receiver than run the football.
Played like #shit 2nite no other way 2 say it
80% optimistic heading into next week vs. Pittsburgh