Panthers vs. Dolphins: Inside the Gamebook

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a look inside the game book from the Panthers 20-16 victory over the Dolphins and see what this was this week's recipe for success.

I always start with the two efficiency stats on offense because the ability to extend drives has been the key to scoring for the Panthers methodical offense. I then move to other stats that I don't track weekly but otherwise stand out.

3rd down Conversion Efficiency - 6 for 17 (35%)

The Panthers started the game 0-6 on 3rd down but then converted two on their final drive of the 2nd qtr to finish 2 for 8 (25%) in 1st half. The second half was a little better as they went 4 for 9 (44%). The key was though the Panther offense struggled most of the day they were able to string a couple conversions together and put points on the board with the game on the line.

4th Down Conversion Efficiency (The Riverboat Ron metric): 2 for 2 (100%)

Rivera rolled the dice in epic fashion on this day. The first was a 4th and 1 from the Panther 41 in which Newton picked up 8 yards. The Panthers subsequently scored their first TD. Then with the game essentially on the line on 4th and 10 from their own 20 yard line the Panthers again converted. As I am sure you are aware the Panthers then drove the field and won the game. It was a very impressive performance.

Time of Possession - 30:12 (50%)

This is a metric the Panthers usually try to dominant but the Dolphin defense severely limited the Panthers for most of the day.

Penalties - 8 for 56 yards

This was one of the worst penalty performances of the season for the Panthers, with the gregarious being an Unnecessary Roughness penalty on Byron Bell after the Newton INT that put the Dolphins at the Panther 11 yard line. Fortunately the defense still held them to a FG. Note that Dolphin coach Joe Philbin at that point elected to kick the FG on 4th and 4 from the 5 yard line rather than go for the TD. Of course I forget that they don't have a Cam Newton at QB ;)

Number of Turnovers - 1

Though Newton did throw an INT the defense was able to limit the damage. Newton would repay the favor later.

Red Zone Efficiency - 2 for 3 (67%)

Can we finally put to bed any notion that Mike Shula's offense is too conservative? The only reason this metric isn't 100% is Gano kicked a FG into his lineman's rear.

Goal to Go Efficiency 2 for 2 100%

I mean just give the ball to FB Mike Tolbert when you need a yard or fifteen. He is a juggernaut when you give him the ball inside the red zone. Which is exactly what made that play action to Olsen for the winning score work so good.

Defensive Pressure Stats Analysis

Panthers: 3 sacks, 5 TFL, 8 QH, 1 INT, 4 PDs

Dolphins: 2 sacks, 5 TFL, 3 QH, 1 INT, 9 PDs

I found this comparison interesting. If you add up the numbers its 21-20 Panthers yet as you would expect the Panthers had way more pressure on the QB than the Dolphins in the form of hurries. The Dolphins instead attacked the ball once it was in the air. By the way, where the hell did Nolan Carroll come from? Considering we won the game yet were out gained in total net yards says to me having a better front 7 is better than a better back 4.

Why you might ask? Because of this stat:

Rushing Yards by Half:

Panthers: 31 yards rushing in 1st half, 105 in 2nd

Dolphins: 22 1st half; 30 in the 2nd half

Becoming one dimensional is never good, regardless of which dimension it is.

Player Snaps:

  • Tolbert led all backs in snaps with 41 (58%)

Earlier in the year Tolbert was getting around 20% but now he is more integrated into the scheme, though in many cases as extra protection for Newton.

  • LaFell 68 snaps (96%) while Smith played 63 (89%)

LaFell may not be a #2 WR in production but he is a #1 WR in importance to this offense, he snap count shows that.

  • Ted Ginn got 36 snaps in the offense (51%) and 10 targets, the most of anyone

Ginn has to be happy with his use in this game. Sure it's disappointing he only pulled down three of ten balls give a hat tip to the defense who played him tight. That deep ball should have been his...

  • 100% of defensive snaps: White, Kuechly, Mitchell, Davis

I'm still amazed at how well Melvin White is playing and how much the coaching staff trusts him.

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