Coming off a stellar performance against Miami, the Panthers traveled to New York to take on the Jets. The Jets boast one of the leagues top defenses, led by one of the more imaginative defensive minds in the NFL today. Unlike last week, the Panthers Offense was unable to sustain consistent success on offense, largely in part to the constant pressure the Jets were able to bring with their front seven, as well as a profusion of blitzes. The Defense also exhibited struggles, failing to generate consistent pressure on the opposing quarterbacks, and saw a return to the porous Panther Run Defense we came to know last season.
This was the first game of the season that the Coaching Staff game planned for. We still didn't expose the entire playbook on Offense, and the Defense did not utilize all, or even most of their blitz packages, however, under direction from McDermott and Rivera, the Defense did line up in a variety of fronts.
-The Panthers Offense ran 59 plays on Sunday.
-Offensive Coordinator Rob Chudzinski called 30 pass plays and 29 run plays.
The play calling was balanced, and it projects to be so going into the regular season.
-The Panthers operated out of 11 personnel 25 snaps, at a clip of 16 passes to 9 runs.
So far this preseason 11 personnel has been the personnel grouping of choice for the Panthers Offense. And as we've seen in the past, the Panthers passed the ball more out of 11 personnel. Most of the snaps came from either the shotgun with one back, or a singleback formation.
-The Offense utilized 21 personnel on 20 downs, with a ratio 9 passes and 11 runs.
21 personnel has been the second personnel grouping of choice for Chud, and unlike with 11 personnel, the play calling has been fairly balanced, with a slight tilt to the running game. Almost all of the plays come out of the I formation and it's strong and weak variants.
-10 snaps were spent in 12 personnel, 4 pass plays and 6 run plays.
-This week saw a return of 22 personnel (3 downs: 1 pass and 2 runs), and one down in 13 personnel (a run).
22 personnel appears to be the personnel grouping of choice inside the red zone.
- The Offensive Line surrendered 4 sacks.
The stunts and zone blitzes from the Jets varied fronts were able to befuddle the offensive line on many occasions, generating great push, and collapsing the pocket, forcing 4 sacks and numerous throw aways. The varied fronts seemed to give our line fits. On a personal note, Quinton Coples looked as good as advertised, seeing time as a five technique and 3 technique.
-After achieving a first down, the Offense called 11 run plays and 5 pass plays.
4 snaps in 11 personnel (2 passes & 2 runs), 6 snaps in 21 personnel (3 passes & 3 runs), 3 snaps in 12 personnel (0 passes & 3 runs), and two plays in 22 personnel (0 passes & 2 runs), as well as 1 play in 13 personnel ( 1 run).
-The Defense played 64 downs.
-The Defense lined up in six different fronts: 4-3, 3-4, 4-2-5, 3-3-5, 4-1-6, and a 4-7 on the final play of the game.
This is probably what we'll see once the regular season begins.
- The Secondary was arrayed in man coverage for 28 downs, and zone coverage for 36 downs.
The usage was balanced, and was largely determined by which packages the front seven was lined up in. Many of the zone calls (like 10 straight) came on the final drive of the game.
- The Defense spent 24 plays in the base 4-3, 14 plays in man coverage and 10 plays in zone coverage.
The 4-3 was the front of choice for the Defense. Inside the 4-3 the Defense lined up in over and under alignments, as well as one package with one DE situated in a two point stance.
-The Panthers lined up in the 3-4 on 11 snaps (8 in man coverage & 3 in zone coverage).
We saw a lot more of the 3-4 this week. It appears as if the Defensive Staff was looking to generate pressure from the 3-4, leaving the secondary in man coverage. Jason Williams, Antwan Applewhite, Thomas Keiser, as well as Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy saw the majority of snaps at 3-4 Rush LB.
-On 21 snaps the Defense was aligned in the 4-2-5 (4 snaps in man coverage & 17 in zone coverage).
The Panthers spent a lot of time in nickel defense, especially towards the end of the game. McDermott utilized the 'Big Nickel' (3 S's and 2 CB's) alignment frequently, putting Sherrod Martin in the box to defend the slot WR. The 4-2-5 typically signaled zone coverage.
- The Defense was lined up in a 3-3-5 for 6 plays (1 snap in man coverage % 5 snaps in zone coverage).
-On 2nd 7+, the Panthers were typically aligned in a nickel defense, in zone coverage.
-On 3rd 7+, the Defense usually lined up in varied fronts of a nickel defense, primarily playing zone coverage.
The Panthers did a very good job this week at keeping their opponents out of 2nd/3rd and short, however, the achilles heel this week was 2nd/3rd and long, when opponents would gash the zones. Of note, both Gamble and Josh Norman were slow to break on balls in zone coverage.
-The Panthers Defense got the most mileage out of their 3-4 front on first and third downs.
As I noted above, the 3-4 was typically used to generate a pass rush. However, it wasn't entirely successful; the Jets were able to run through the gaps left by the OLB's, or the UT's masquerading as 5 techniques (Fua, Chandler, Van Bergen).
-When the Defense did blitz, it was usually on a 3rd down.
-On 1st down the McDermott typically had the Defense in a base defense.
On Offense the Panthers tried to balance their attack both through the air and on the ground. On first down the Offense looked to pick up quick yards through the running game. In the passing game, Cam (and the other QB's) looked to hit the TE's to expose the Jets LB's coverage skills. In addition, Cam's primary reads usually came from routes across the middle of the field, or towards the sidelines; crossing routes, and curls. Interestingly enough, it appears as though the gameplan called for a dose of play action to freeze the LB's, in hopes of slowing down the pass rush and/or opening up the middle of the field.
The Defense looked to generate a pass rush mainly through the front seven, whether it be the 3-4 fronts or the 4-3 fronts. The varied fronts were supposed to confuse the Jets' blockers and open up holes for blitzers (see TD's sack). The coverages were fairly balanced, and we saw a lot of Cover 1 and Cover 3 this week, to deter the deep passing game, and in the case of the Cover 1, to put an extra man in the box. A lot of players were shuffled in and out of positions to gauge their individual effectiveness, as well as their versatility in a variety of roles.