I debated skipping this loss in my flashback reviews. I had blotted it out because it was so bad certainly it's best to just let is rest in our distant memory. But the simple fact is the Panthers face these same Giants yet again in week 3 in 2013 so I think we need to do this. I started by watching all of the highlights on NFL.com and though it was still ugly I did actually find some rays of hope for the Panthers in 2013.
Right out the gate you see journeyman RB Andre Brown (20 for 113, 2 TDs) just gash the Panthers running the ball in what was easily his best game of the 2012 season. If you watch the specific Brown highlights piece you see he really did nothing special. It was a combination of our defensive line getting owned by the Giants offensive line and poor tackling. In many cases I lay the blame on MLB Jon Beason. He missed tackles, he couldn't get off blocks and even missed an easy INT in the 2nd qtr.
I think things will be very different in 2013 with a stouter run defense and Luke Kuechly in the middle. You could say this was an indicator game that led to the Panthers drafting two DTs in the 2013 draft in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. It won't be long before teams have to double Star on every play and that should free up the DE's even more to make plays. Therefore I fully expect the Panthers to perform better against the Giants running game.
WR Ramses Barden also had his way with the Panthers to the tune of a career game (9 rec for 138 yds). That ended up being Barden's entire season as he only had 5 more receptions in the remaining 13 games. So what happened there? Barden was matched up one on one with rookie CB Josh Norman who was no match for Barden's size. Is there hope this won't happen again in 2013? Yes but it won't be Barden. Also, Norman has a season under his belt but the truth is he may not even start much less be matched up one on one.
TE Martellus Bennett had a huge day as well, catching 6 for 73 yds and a TD. I'm not sure the Panthers will cover TEs better in 2013 but what gives me hope is the fact Luke Kuechly has a penchant for playing the pass plus an improved Panther pass rush would make a huge difference. The Panthers didn't sniff a sack in this game which meant Eli Manning had all day to pick his receivers. If the Panthers can stuff the run that will force more 3rd and long and pass rushing opportunities. If the rookie DTs can get pressure up the middle then that would go a long way.
On the other side of ball the offensive line played terrible in this game, missing assignments and not holding blocks long enough. Crawford had a nice break down of the offensive formations and the run - pass breakdown. The main problem is that the Giants were able to neutralize the Panthers push with just their front four allowing the Giants to drop more in coverage on passing downs. Add in the fact that Newton simply did not make good throws in the game and its easy to see why it got out of hand early.
Though the Panthers will bring essentially the same offensive personnel into this game the game plan will be much different with Mike Shula calling the plays. More power running from the 21 personnel set will keep the Giants honest up front and allow traditional play action to bring the defense to the LOS.
In summary the Giants dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Other than that the Panthers sandpapered their own arse with poor decisions on offense and poor tackling on defense. I think they can turn that around this year and it will start with stopping the Giants running game and getting pressure on Eli Manning. Do that and I think the offense will get more snaps and chew up more clock.
So what do you think about our week 3 match-up with the Gaints? Do we have a much better chance of winning this one?