Review of the Panther's First Half

My intent here is not to give a play by play analysis, as this is what Jaxon does, but instead to point out some trends I saw in the first half.

Notes on the Defense

Before going back and reviewing the game I had two theories as to why our defense looked fairly poor: 1) Philly ran a lot of short quick pass plays that both negated and wore down our D-line, and 2) That our defense didn't really game plan for Philly.

Upon my review of the tape I found evidence supporting both theories, and some other interesting tid bits.

Evidence that supports my second point:

1) We literally ran the same defensive formation the whole first half, the 4-2-5. Now I can appreciate that this will be our primary nickle formation, but there was no variance at all.

2) We executed a grand total of six blitzes in the first half. There were five were we brought a fifth man: two with Mitchell, and three with Cap. Then there was one blitz were we sent both Luke and TD.

3) While I did not keep an exact count we predominately ran a very soft, vanilla, zone coverage scheme. Which we will probably do a lot in the regular season as well, in an attempt to protect our relatively weak secondary, but this kind of coverage scheme is the worst you can run against an offense like Kelly's.

4) While it may be that Vick was simply just that good at escaping last night, it didn't appear that we ever put a Spy on Vick, which is a necessity when playing against him.

5) Our run defense's ineptitude was impacted in part by our LBs making bad reads and being out of position. In particular TD and Luke were both far from the play on McCoy's 21 yd run. I feel very comfortable blaming on them simply being ill-prepared.

I'm fairly confident that the reason our defense didn't seem tailored towards Philly's new offense was because the coaches wanted to evaluate several players, as: Fua, Cole, Thomas, and Cap all got extensive playing time.

Evidence that supports my first point:

1) In sixteen completions (one was called back for off pass interference) for Philly, six were either: swing passes, or those "option"/bubble screens. They also ran the "option" screen another time with Foles electing to keep it and run. These passes completely negated our defensive line, while still tiring them out.

2) Two out of five runs that went for 6-10 yards are the direct result of Hardy and KK being too aggressive and abandoning their gaps. While this is subjective, it seemed them sacrificing their position was in a vain attempt to replicate their dominance displayed against Chicago.

3) It became very obvious that our Defensive line was gassed, as four out of six passes for eleven or more yards came when the defensive line got zero pressure on the QB, despite the plays being more traditional and requiring more time to develop.

4) Outside of Horton's sack the only other real pressure came from the interior, this makes sense as the DTs are the shortest distance from the QB, so even on quick passes pressure from the middle can affect the QB (anyone notice the bad snaps from center?). While isolating a DE is part of the option scheme, on several of the designed quick passes Hardy was left completely unblocked, with the OT blocking down on the DT. This seemed to indicate a specific game-plan of negating our DEs.

In a regular season game more pressure up the middle could've been brought by S and LB blitzes, which are fairly basic, but were not shown in this game. Leading me again to believe the coaches were more concerned with evaluating players than stopping Philly's offense.

Notes on the Offense

My main theory I had concerning our offense was that, outside a handful of bad plays, we actually ran the ball fairly well. I also wanted to validate my thought that Bell was our single worst starting offensive linemen. The evidence I collected supports both thoughts.

The evidence in support of my first theory:

On six rushes where DWill rushed for less than 4 yards: four of them were due to Shula pulling Garry Williams (3 out of 4 times Silatolu was supposed to pull and pick up the man lined up in front of Garry W, but didn't get there in time, the two big negative rushes fall into this category. The fourth time was because Garry W didn't get to his man in time on his pull), one of them was because Philly brought down an eighth man and out out numbered the blockers, and one of them was because Silatolu missed an in-line block. Hopefully Shula learned his lesson that Garry W is an in line blocker, as he did not get beat while staying in. Silatolu did a great job pulling, except on those three plays where he simply was not quick enough to pick up the free man, which I think was ridiculous of Shula to ask him to do anyway.

The evidence in support of Bell needing to be replaced:

1) I counted nine plays were Bell simply did not do his job.

2) On almost two thirds of the plays we ran in the first half Bell had at least one TE helping him block. And on virtually all the plays we ran to his side there were two TEs, and frequently a FB helping block. Simply put no starter in the NFL should require that much help, much less against a mediocre Philly D.

Lastly, some other interesting tid bits

1) Philly blitzed 18 times in the first half, eleven times bring a fifth rusher, and seven times rushing six.

2) Silatolu whiffed on two blocks (not counting those horrendously designed pulls) one a pass which was completed, and one a run which got Dwill stopped for only a yard.

3) Outside of Silatolu's one whiffed pass block, and Bell consistently getting beat like a drum, the only other free rushers Cam had to contend with came from two delayed ILB blitzes which no one picked up.

4) I didn't see Florence get beat once down the field. Thomas gave up one big pass when he slipped. Norman gave up one big pass for 22 yds, but he should never have been in coverage for that long. I would like to see our CBs used more in man coverage, for at least one game to see how they do.

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