Panthers left it all on the field for their coach today. It seemed like they gave it their all knowing that they've got a bye next week. Special Teams play needs to improve tremendously. Only got to see one kickoff return and the punt coverage was decent, our punt returns need to improve tremendously, Gano's leg is all thats needed for kickoff coverage. Nortman continues to shine and Gano has been doing very well so far. Now onto observations by position.
Cam Newton- Started out slow, made 1-2 mistakes, a few overthrows. Bounced back, kept his chin up. Ran the ball very well early in the game and had clean tight spirals in the middle of the field. Targeted a good variety of recievers and got Lafell involved. Just realized instead of Cam checking down to a back out of the backfield, he runs it. Take away those guys as recievers and make them blockers and he'll have more time to find an open reciever in a man or a zone defense.
Deangelo Williams & Mike Tolbert- Williams continues to run very well but has yet to break out those long runs in the open field. Give him a little space and he'll gain that 5 ypc. Tolbert pounds the ball as always.
Wide Recievers- Steve Smith played well, but could've been targeted more early on. Lafell got going late with some good touchdown receptions. Teddy Ginn stretches the field like a boss but his speed, not hands(ability to make a big catch) is an asset. Greg Olsen(TE) continues to be Cam's favorite first target over the middle of the field. Didn't see him running deep routes but was very active over the middle. Cam didn't have to check down much with recievers getting open quickly.
OLine- I absolutely hate what they are doing here. Silatolu/ Scott/ and Wharton are rotating every series or every other series. It's almost about which 1 of 3 they'll take for next year. They should be picking the best two players and putting them in. Would like to see better run blocking out of this unit. Kept Cam protected for enough time for him to scramble out of the pocket or throw it.
Defense- I'll jot down these thoughts for the entire defense as a unit, because they played like one throughout the entire game. First it seems like Josh Norman is deep, deep inside of Rivera's doghouse yet again for the 2nd year in a row. He should have had an easy start but it was Melvin White, yes, the #6 cb on the depth chart who was inactive the last two games, and is an undrafted player who filled his spot. I don't understand the balance having Beason playing two games and then Blackburn getting the Weakside reps this game. Balance it out, don't alternate series but put Blackburn in for a few drives because Beason is after all coming off an injury. Everyone is putting him down, but this is the same Beason that has been around. No one can expect him to be like TD#58 getting much better then he ever was after missing three years. The D-Line was fantastic. With Dwan Edwards and Frank Alexander out, the substitutions on the Dline occurred less often than the buffalo game, partly because they didnt run a nohuddle offense. This was good as our guys were figuring out the Oline blocking techniques and beating them and pressuring the heck out of Eli.
Linebackers dominated stopping the run and in coverage. Not much to say here except for the fact that Davis and Kuechly are a good combo.
Melvin White, who are you? This guy is looking to get more playing time as is Robert Lester and Mike Mitchell. Now these guys werent really tested very much, but they held their own. Mitchell had a bunch of big hits and the db unit was strong despite being the weakest position.
Overall a solid game, solid playcalling by Shula, but the score shows more how weak the Giants Oline was and the horrendous playcalling that resulted in many 3 and outs in our favor. I am a little queasy about this bye week going in with maybe too much confidence, but hopefully are problems are fixed and our injured players get healthy. It'll be interesting to see which DB's get playing time next game with these great performances. The results of these next two away games at Arizona and at Minnesota will truly show how good Rivera is and whether or not he should've been fired last week.