Didn't do squat in preseason. Had zero catches today. Time to cut the light off for this guy, especially for the folks who this offseason were talking about paying him $5 million a year. Yes, they played a great Seattle defense, but one that was missing 3 starters, including their 2 best pass rushers and a starting CB.
Greg Olsen? Targeted 10 times, had 5 catches. That was 5 of Newton's 7 incompletions. There also seemed to be a decided effort to make Olsen a focal point of the passing offense in the preseason, and it is showing the same results. Olsen is a good complementary TE, but he is not good enough to be the focal point of an offense. Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez (in their primes), Jason Witten, Jimmy Graham he is not because he doesn't get separation like they do (or did).
All offseason we heard from Shula about the quicker pace. Where was it?
The front seven was great against one of the better rushing attacks in the NFL, but the secondary got completely picked apart, especially in the 2nd half, while facing Seattle's collection of mostly nondescript WRs. With 4 games against the Saints and Falcons plus with guys like Tom Brady and Colin Kaepernik coming to town, that indicates trouble.
I know statistics are misleading, but the bottom line is that Carolina had 5 yards per carry and only 1 sack. The offensive line isn't great, but the real problem on offense is the guys catching the ball. And despite all the yards given up by the secondary, the Seahawks only scored 12 points. That should have been enough. The defense played well enough to win and the OL wasn't why they lost.
And yeah, it might be time to second-guess the defense-heavy approach in the draft during the Rivera era. 1st draft: Newton in the first round but a pair of DTs in the third (none of whom are on the team). 2nd draft: LB in first, OL in the 2nd, no 3rd rounder, WR (primarily for special teams and no longer on team) in 4th. 3rd draft: DT in 1st, DT in 2nd, OL (injured reserve) in 4th. Had cap problems, sure, but some of the few moves that were made were mostly for defense: DTs last year and LBs and DBs this year. And even next year, there is the effort to roll over cap money for Greg Hardy.
Yes, there are issues at OT and CB, but WR has to be the #1 priority this offseason. They need to address the position high in the draft AND in free agency, and even that is if Steve Smith decides to give it another go (which cannot be guaranteed). And again, as for the folks who wanted to give Brandon LaFell $5 million a year, hopefully that money will be put to better use elsewhere.
Granted, some of it is coaching. Seattle doesn't have superstars at WR either. Fine. If the Panthers don't score enough points to get to 10 wins this year, add Darell Bevell (Seattle's offensive coordinator) to the new head coach interview list (he is only 43, but amazingly he has been an offensive coordinator since 2006 and before then spent 3 years as the QB coach for the Packers). But it is past time to believe that "talent" like LaFell, Edwards, Hartsock etc. are going to cut it in the NFL.
One final thing: I like Tolbert, but he is making too much money to produce 4 yards on 5 touches (and this is with Jonathan Stewart and Kenjon Barner out, when those guys come back he will get the ball even less) on such a capped out team. Just still more evidence on how the guys who put this offense together (basically Hurney and Rivera) had no idea what they were doing.
Now to be fair, this was a better outing than the disastrous opening to the season last year in Tampa Bay. But it just wasn't as good as the Panthers need to be. The schedule is tougher this year (NFC West and AFC East opponents plus New Orleans is back, also a visit from the Giants and a trip to Minnesota) so the Panthers could very well be a better team and still have a worse record.