Welcome once again to the Hog Molly Report, where winning in the trenches is all that matters. Before we begin, we open with the reciting of our usual motto:
In the spirit of Mr. Gettleman’s words, and the philosophy of building a team from the inside out, my goal will be to watch the hog mollies each game during the season, and give them a grade based on their performance. This week we will look at the bounce back win against the San Francisco 49ers, and see where the buffet busters went right, and where they could use some improvement.
Offensive Hog mollies
*Season average in parentheses
Week 2 Yards per carry: 4.8 (4.8, 5th NFL)
Third down conversions: 7 out of 15, 47% (53%, 3rd NFL)
Sacks given up: 1 (4, T-11th NFL)
Running plays less than 3 yards (not including sacks): 16 on 37 attempts
Rating: 5 out of 5 Piggies in the Pot
It was nearly a perfect game as far as the offensive line was concerned. The only even slight scuff on their record is the fact that many run plays were stuffed short of a 3 yard gain, however, they also opened holes for many chunk plays. Some of that has to do with Jonathan Stewart, a much more reliable runner, leaving the game with a hamstring injury. Fozzy Whitaker took over after Stewart’s departure, and while he did have his first 100 yard game as a pro, his style naturally lends itself to more bursts instead of tough running after initial contact.
Cam Newton chipped in his usual bit of yardage, and the only reason the offensive line was credited with a single sack was on a scramble well outside the pocket (the play where Newton was stripped was actually behind the line and credited as a sack). Overall, Newton had a clean pocket and plenty of time to throw. If the O-Line can continue their top 5 production in the run game (currently 1st overall), and the offense can continue to convert third downs, it can be a really good season.
Defensive Hog mollies
Yards per carry allowed: 2.5 (3.9, T-14th NFL)
3rd Down Conversions allowed: 4 out of 14, 29% (38%, T-11th NFL)
Sacks: 2 (4, T-14th NFL)
Running plays less than 3 yards: 16 on 26 attempts
Rating: 4 out of 5 Oinko Boinkos
After a dismal performance against the Broncos where they failed to generate much pass rush, and allowed C.J. Anderson to gain over 5 yards a clip, the Panthers D-Line made several amends for the errors in week 1. They cut their allowed YPC average in half, and were not kind to the 49ers on third down opportunities. Carlos Hyde was one of the best backs in the NFL in the Niner’s first game against a vaunted L.A. Rams front four, but he could not find any running room against the Panthers front seven. More than half of his and Shaun Draughn’s attempts were stuffed for less than 3 yards.
So why the loss of one hog? The pass rush needs to get better. Yes, Gabbert is yet another dink and dunk QB, but even on the long dropbacks, there wasn’t a lot of pressure generated. Overall, there was a staggeringly low number of hurries and hits. If the Panthers are to be a championship contender again this year, the front four will need to generate more push and muddle up the pocket a bit more.
7 receptions, 108 yards, 2 touchdowns
Rating: 5 out of 5 Greased Pig Wranglers
Honorary Hogmolly Kelvin Benjamin continued his dominance as Cam Newton continued to feed him the ball in clutch opportunities. While it is clear he is not quite 100% yet in trusting his knee to make sharp cuts, and his routes are a bit sloppy, he is absolutely winning the physical game when asked to fight for the ball against tight coverage. It is a wonderful thing to see him and Cam pick up where they left off.
Hog molly of the Week: Star Lotulelei
The defense was absolutely stone-walling the interior run all day long, and those efforts can be directly attributed to good gap discipline by Star and KK. Star gets the nod as Hog molly of the week thanks to a brutal turf planting of Blaine Gabbert, which is usually not a big part of his game. The big fella has made it a point of emphasis to be more aggressive in his pass rush, and this is a good sign on a defensive line still knocking off some off-season rust when getting after the passer.
It should be noted, however, that Kelvin Benjamin’s status is fully honorary, and he is not eligible for Hog molly of the week... he would win too often.