Does the Panthers Preseason Victory Reveal Penalty Problem?

Aug 17, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith (89) reacts during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Dolphins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Preseason is about working out the bugs and getting things right before the start of the season. So before we congratulate the Panthers too much on their victory over a struggling Dolphin team lets look at what we can still learn. Last week the Panthers performed well in the area of penalties only having 4 for 24 yards in a lacl luster loss to the Texans.

After a chippy week of practice and what can only be described as a very chippy game the Panthers had 9 penalties just int he first half. Several of them hurt and resulted in less points getting on the scoreboard. Yes the Panthers scored 20 first half points but in all honesty it should have been 27-28 points. So the big question is should we be concerned? Here's the detail on the 9 penalties:

  1. Holding on LaFell stalled a drive and resulted in a FG instead of a TD
  2. Off sides on Hardy results in 2nd and 5 - The drive does eventually stall
  3. Hardy off sides again results in another 2nd and 5 - Drive results in a Dolphins TD
  4. Holding on TE Gary Barnidge results in 1st and 19
  5. Next play, holding on OG Amini Silatolu, now 1st and 28
  6. Next play, false start on RT Byron Bell, now 1st and 33...this drive is almost resurrected on 3rd down when Tolbert caught the pass in the middle of the field and had the 1st down but then fumbled on the hit.
  7. Holding on LB Ken Onatolu on a punt return - 10 yards
  8. Holding on WR Louis Murphy negates a 1st down and results in 3rd and 8 - drive stalls leading to a punt
  9. Illegal block by Josh Thomas on a punt return right before the end of the half
As you can see if we had to pin the issue on anyone it would be the offense leading with 5 of the 9 penalties. Two by the defense and then two by special teams left no phase of the game unscathed in this analysis. That's nine penalties just in the first half by what was our 1st teams for the most part. Those lost points would come back to haunt us in the tough games we are sure to encounter this season.
The Panther 2nd and 3rd teams didn't fare any better with another 8 penalties but we might be more inclined to expect some issues from them.

As much as I want to be concerned about this I am able to temper it with the fact that is was a chippy week of practice highlighted by a scolding from HC Ron Rivera on the team practicing with a sense of urgency. I think this game was a result of the Panthers as a team going a little far in the other direction with some 'spirited' play.

The Panthers were not alone in their sloppy play though. The Dolphins added 10 penalties themselves contributing to a overall game that dragged on when combined with the replacement ref bungling. The chippiness was highlighted by a classic from Steve Smith who has been good in his career at getting CBs to react to his smack talk and tough play. Davis was charged with a 15 yard personal foul after reacting to a what he felt was an over exuberant block from Smitty. In that regard we have nothing to fear.
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