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The Hog Molly Report: Panthers vs Giants

The Panthers snuck in a victory in a trap game against the New York Giants this past Sunday following their bye week, let’s talk about how the offensive and defensive lines fared in this contest.

NFL: New York Giants at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

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 win where the Panthers snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the New York Giants to improve to 3-1 on the season following their early bye week. This game was very much a mixed bag for the two lines. The offensive line continues to play at a higher level than expected, while the defensive line (and defense in general) are decidedly underwhelming.

Offensive Hog Mollies

Yards per Carry: 3.8, season: 5.0 (T-3rd, NFL)

Yards per Play: 5.3, season: 5.6 (18th, NFL)

Sacks allowed: 1, season: 7 (T-6th, NFL)

Third downs converted: 4 of 13 or 31%, season: 39% (21st, NFL)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Holy Hog-a-molies

4 out of 5 hogs

The Carolina Panthers did not lose the game on offensive line play, which continues to be refreshing given what we expected. We ran the ball in chunks against the Giants but then also had many runs for no gain or negative yards. From where I was sitting, we got predictable, and it was easy for the Giants to stuff certain plays. I can’t really put that much on the linemen. There were only a few pressures, but they came at inopportune times, one of which led to an interception for which I’m not sure if Ian Thomas or Cam are most at fault. Of all our linemen, Trai Turner in his first game back post-concussion had the worst day. I don’t expect that to be the case very often.

Here’s a very brief sack report:

1st Sack: Q4 2:32, 2nd & 9, NYG 16 - The only sack of the game was not at a great time, and not really a traditional sack either. The Panthers are trying to get the play going right and Cam Newton rolling left with a couple tight ends sneaking out of the formation. The problem is Chris Manhertz does an awful job of it and Connor Barwin reads the play perfectly. Cam loses 5 yards before the play can get off the ground. This is something better suited for when Greg Olsen returns.

The game got close because we decided to get predictable and/or get ourselves penalized at the absolute worst times. It also was not a great effort from the defense, which I will touch on in a minute. In general though, we have to be pleased with the continued good play of this banged up offensive line. Kudos to Chris Clark for just a single pressure on the day, and definitely to Greg Van Roten and Taylor Moton for pitching a shut out.

Defensive Hog Mollies

Yards per Carry: 3.1, season: 4.6 (24th, NFL)

Yards per Play: 8.2, season: 6.5 (27th, NFL)

Sacks given: 1, season: 9 (T-23rd, NFL)

Third down allowed %: 0 of 7 or 0%, season: 31% (5th, NFL)

Rating: 3 out of 5 Snortsickles

3 out of 5 hogs

The numbers continue to not be very good for the Carolina Panthers defense as a whole, and some of that can certainly be attributed to the defensive line. That said, the New York Giants had a pretty good gameplan in the second half to keep the pressure off Eli Manning. They continued to get the ball out fast, but anytime they did go to a longer developing play, they went max protect and let their skill players do the work against extra coverage. Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Saquon Barkley all rose to that challenge. I hate to say it, but Mike Shula was the better offensive coordinator on the day, and made the better halftime adjustments. Like Kelvin Benjamin, this was probably his meaningless Super Bowl.

In the first half, pressure was good. Manning’s “give up” sack was a defense mechanism to staring down a Luke Kuechly gun barrel after his offensive line got mauled off the snap. Efe Obada won on a bull rush a few plays later nearly forcing a strip sack, Eli got his arm forward just in time. Mario Addison also broke free twice forcing incompletions. After halftime though, the Giants had a plan and executed it. You have to hand it to them, it was nearly enough. Julius Peppers finally had an impact game, shutting down the run all day and nearly getting Manning a couple of times. We still await his first sack, however.

Hog Molly of the Week: Cam Newton

In the absence of great play from a true Hog Molly, I’d like to highlight a man who certainly exhibited the spirit of a buffet buster. Cam Newton is without a doubt a large gentleman... but this ain’t supposed to happen:

D.J. Moore also ran like a grown man on this play, but Cam Newton sprung it with that block on a DEFENSIVE END. Wow.

That play aside, Cam Newton also trucked his way to a couple of first downs, visibly wanting to hit someone after being involved in a bit of dirty play by the Giants on an early game tackle. The desire to deliver, instead of take hits, is the way of the hog. Well done Cameron.