A new season is just around the corner with only one pre-season game left. From what we have seen so far it’s like Jekyll and Hyde. The New York Giants pre-season game showed what the Panthers can and will be one day. A potent offensive and defensive team with above average play that will contend for the playoffs year in and year out. Cincinnati and Miami showed us the complete opposite spectrum. A defense with glaring holes and an offense that sputters worse than that 1970 Volkswagon you can never seem to fix! But fear not because James Dator made a comment on the Monday Morning Optimist Friday edition 8/26/11 that rings true…
"I hope the last two games have exemplified this team playing to their weaknesses intentionally to see how bad it can be, but when the real plays are rolled out that use this team's strengths then everything will get better." –James Dator
I believe this coaching staff is intentionally putting the team in certain situations to see how they perform. They have to evaluate the roster with limited time this season to practice and do other things due to the lockout.
For one Cam Newton has been throwing a lot of passes ( for his short stints on the field) this pre-season. Of course this is to be foreseen because he needs to develop better mechanics and accuracy. But let’s be honest here, do you really think Ron Rivera during the regular season is going to let Cam Newton air it out with his current accuracy? No. Maybe 20 passes a game. Most of them will be to the tight ends, running backs, and Steve Smith. The coaching staff is smart. They will put Cam Newton in a situation to succeed. They don’t want their new and shiny toy to be tossed in the junk pile the way Jimmy Clausen was. The offense will be geared to Newton his strengths not his weaknesses.
What we can expect regular season is a healthy dose of the run game. DeAngelo. Stewart, and Goodson are going to be pivotal for us this season. A good run game is a rookie QB’s best friend (see Andy Dalton vs. the Panthers. Guy looked like an All Pro). When Cam has a clean pocket he can make the throws needed to move the chains. The last thing we need is for him to revert to his Auburn days and feel he has to run every play eventually leading a bad injury.
The concerning thing is how our O-lines and D-lines have played. Gross is playing gross. Bernadeau is a turnstile. Charles Johnson is being doubled team, which he isn’t used too, and Everette Brown looks like he is acting out a live action rendition of Finding Nemo.
We need to shore up both lines. We are being manhandled on both fronts which brings down other areas. We saw that flash of brilliance vs. the Giants. The pass rush was much better allowing the corners and linebackers to make plays. Offensive line gave Cam and Jimmy some time and they made enough throws to keep us in the game. Anyone remember when Hollis Thomas came through and helped stabilize the defense? Once Otah, Schwartz, and Hardy return and we get a decent DT, who I hope his name is Kentwan Balmer and play to our strengths offensively and defensively, the team will play much better. We have to remember that these guys are learning new schemes, coaches, and plays. It won’t happen overnight but it won’t take a century either. Look for a bumpy first half of the season with a decent finish the 2nd half. Remember becoming great is like collard greens. They just started cooking! Can’t eat ‘em raw!