Welcome ladies and gentlemen 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 (regardless of him having moved on), 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 week one matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. The opening game always sets the tone for the season, so let’s look at the big buffet busters and discuss the good and bad.
Offensive Hog Mollies
Rating: 5 out of 5 Porcine Maurauders
Zero sacks allowed by the Panthers offensive line, along with a productive day running the football equals a five pig head rating for the opening game of the 2017 season. It would be hard to ask more of the offensive hog mollies than this, and if they can keep it up throughout the season, I believe we will continue to see Cam shake off some of his rust and really grow his confidence as his jersey stays clean. I was particularly impressed with the way the line enforced their will in obvious run situations while closing out the game. It did not matter that the defense knew what was coming, Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey were still able to gallop for 4-6 yards a clip behind the big pig push.
The only player I would like to see more improvement out of is free agent acquisition Matt Kalil, as he did allow one hurry and one hit on Cam Newton coming off his side. I also would like to see him finish his blocks with more gusto, and seek out extra blocks until the whistle blows. Our best offensive lineman is Trai Turner, and that is because he looks to plant someone on his butt until the whistle blows pretty much every time. Matt Kalil should spend more time listening to him than his brother... in my opinion. I know it was hot, but nut up big fella.
Defensive Hog Mollies
Rating: 5 out of 5 Bacon-Aters
Sweet pork-filled Christmas... was this a dominating effort by the Panthers defensive line or what? Four sacks, several tackles for loss, and a couple handfuls of hurries and QB hits resulted in one really bad day for Brian Hoyer and the San Francisco 49ers offense. All the credit belongs to the Hoggiest of the Mollies in the middle... Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short for copious amounts of middle disruption and the general mayhem they caused. Their efforts freed up the defensive ends and blitzing linebackers to make the sacks and big tackles to keep this victory well in hand from beginning to end. Speaking of defensive ends... how about that Julius Peppers, eh? Welcome back, Pep. Welcome back.
Honorary Hog Molly: Kelvin Benjamin
Rating: 3 out of 5 Greased Pig-Wranglers
Consider this grade more of an incomplete than an indictment of Kelvin Benjamin from Sunday. He did make one big catch near the end of the half to create a scoring opportunity, but other than a couple bad throws and one terrible force into double coverage by Cam Newton, KB did not have much of a chance to showcase himself. Cam is going to get better as he gets back in the game flow and puts more reps under his belt, so I expect we are yet to see more of what Benjamin is capable of.
Hog Molly of the Week: Star Lotulelei
The spirit of being a hog molly does not rest in showing up big time on the stat sheet. This is what many people who undervalue Star Lotulelei do not understand. As a former NT myself, I didn’t record a ton of stats either. But I was big and strong. I could force a double-team backward. I could collapse a pocket from the middle. I could affect a play strongly without actually making it. This is Star’s value to the team. Re-watching the game from yesterday, I could see a consistent impact from Star, and when he was off the field it was noticeable. Interior pressure by Lotulelei ended up forcing a lot of cutbacks into the arms of waiting linebackers and corners... to go along with his 3 tackles, 1 TFL, and half a sack. The sooner this man has a contract extension in his big paws, the better.