What a difference a week makes, or is it a weaker team? It's the preseason so it doesn't matter much. The Panthers put on a much better display this week as they mauled the Dolphins early and then coasted the remainder of the way.
1st Half Analysis: Panthers 20 Dolphins 7
With Cam Newton under center the Panthers put 17 points on the board and if not for some key mistakes could have put up more. They settled for a 20-7 half time lead as the 2nd team took over.
Newton finished 8 for 11 for 119 yards and a TD. Better was the fact he spread the ball around to six different receivers with the mix as follows: 2-WR, 2-RB, 2-TE. If not for the 9 penalties (and counting as I write this) it would be a steller night.
The defense fed off the offense's prowess and played some tough ball themselves. Dolphins rookie QB Ryan Tanneyhill went 11 for 23 for 100 yds, no TDs. He looked pretty good for a rook making his 1st start but he had to be hating Panthers DE Charles Johnson. Johnson was harassing the QB all night, getting a sack, a couple hits and a couple passes knocked down. I'm very excited by what I saw from CJ in this game.
At the other end of the spectrum WR Brandon LaFell hurt more than he helped. Outside of a nice 25 yard 3rd down conversion reception he had a bad holding penalty and a dropped short 3rd down conversion (similar to one he had last week). I'm not saying it hurts his status in any way, just saying he had a bad game in those areas.
The TD scoring was accomplished by J-Stew one a 2 yard plunge and Williams on a 9 yard roll to the right swing pass. Justin Medlock added a 48 yard FG that could have went for 55 and Mare added a 43 yarder. The kicker competition remains on and is still too close to call.
Luke Kuechly was solid again though he had more of a workman-like performance this week. MLB Jason Phillips again filled in nicely for Jon Beason and is a solid back-up in the middle. Overall the defensive line did a good job of getting theirs hands up and clogging the running lanes. They kept them in front of them and prevented the big play. The Dolphins really did not challenge the Panthers down the field, maybe by design but I'm thinking they kept it simply for Tanneyhill. The d-line with Edwards and McClain played fairly well and got a good push up front for the entire half. I was very encouraged by what I say from the defense.
Steve Smitty showed some fire tonight as he got into on several plays with CB Vontae Davis. Smith eventually goaded Davis into a retaliation that got flagged for 15. Smitty is so good at that. I would hate playing against him!
Last but not least I am loving Joe Adams returning punts. He averaged 11.5 yards on 4 returns with a long of 18...but he was close to breaking one again. The kick coverage still scares me but the returning from Adams and Pilares looks like they could finally make an impact weekly.
So how did you like the 1st half Panthers fans?