The 2013 preseason has been unkind to the Carolina Panthers, or more aptly, they've been unkind to themselves. Today we look at the embarrassing loss on Thursday, where the defense were made to look foolish, and the offense did enough to look terrible also.
One unconvincing win, and a worse-than-it-looked loss have lead way to Carolina odiously taking the mantle as one of the worst preseason offenses in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus' advanced stats. Their -22.1 overall rating ranks 28th in the NFL, while their pass blocking is equally terrible at -5.6 -- good for 29th. The issues in pass blocking were a known quantity, but supposed to be mitigated with a power running scheme that takes advantage of the Panthers' excellent backs. The run blockers are ranked 21st, while the running backs are 26th.
If you choose to believe this is all because of vanilla play calling, fine. The numbers show that the majority of NFL teams have better vanilla than the Panthers do.
The silver lining (if you can call it that) is that Carolina still boast a middle-of-the-pack defense, despite getting embarrassed by the Eagles. The pass rush is solid, but most surprising is the pass defense, which is currently ranked 8th in the league.
Jordan Gross and Ryan Kalil remain two rafts floating in a sea of mediocrity. They graded out at +2.4 and +2.8 respectively, and were far and away Carolina's two best offensive players. Gross has been the Panthers' best player on offense in preseason, which is amusing given the willingness by a segment of the fanbase to cut him just months ago.
The comeback of David Gettis has been stellar, and he continued it on Thursday. He finished the games as the Panthers' highest charted receiver, and could easily help push one of Dave Gettleman's free agent acquisitions out the door.
I don't know where he came from, but the player to watch on defense has become Louis Nzegwu. He was Carolina's highest graded pass rusher, and the best player on the entire team on Thursday. His +3.3 pass rush rating is the highest any Panther has received this preseason, and he's making a strong case to remain on the 53 man roster.
Garry Williams and Amini Silatolu were both terrible, yet again. Amini had a decent game pass blocking, but took a huge step back against the run -- while Williams did neither well. Chris Scott helped the run game (+1.5) when he was rotated in, but was such a liability against the pass (-1.1) that he can't be trusted.
Give credit where it's due to Philadelphia's creative offense, but Mike Mitchell was atrocious on Thursday. He didn't do a single thing well, and was the lowest rated player on the team with a -3.3. He'll get a shot against Baltimore, but it might be time to cool the jets on his prospects for the season.
Something has to happen with Captain Munnerlyn. We're going on three years where it's clear he needs to play in the slot, but he continues to get opportunities starting on the outside. Munnerlyn was the second-worst in pass protection on Thursday (-0.6), and this is following up a game against Chicago where he graded out at a -1.8.