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The Hog Molly Report: Panthers vs Saints

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The losing streak continues for the Carolina Panthers, and the offensive line continues to get worse and worse. But for a nice change of pace, it was a much better game for the defensive linemen.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-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 Carolina Panthers latest loss, blowing a game that they surprisingly really had a chance to win against the New Orleans Saints. Lately, we have not received good play from the offensive line and that trend unfortunately continued. The defensive line has much improved recently and in the second half did enough to help keep the team in the game, but they still struggled to generate four man pressure.

Offensive Hog Mollies

Yards per Carry: 4.3, season: 5.3 (1st, NFL)

Yards per Play: 4.7, season: 6.0 (7th, NFL)

Sacks allowed: 4, season: 29 (T-7th, NFL)

Third downs converted: 7 of 15 or 47%, season: 40% (13th, NFL)

Rating: 2 out of 5 Mangled Mollies

2 out of 5 hogs

The Carolina Panthers continue to regress up front, and it was expected to be a rough day with Marshall Newhouse forced into action at left tackle. Regardless, the amount and frequency of pressure made an already ailing and injured Cam Newton have it that much tougher. Meanwhile, his counterpart in Drew Brees was pretty comfortable most of the first half in the pocket.

Here are you pressure counts:

And here is another lengthy sack report:

12:07 Q1, 2nd & 5, NOR 36- Demario Davis sacks Cam Newton for -10 yards. This one is hard to credit to the offensive line. The Panthers clearly had a screen called, and Cam bobbled the shotgun snap which appeared to be good. Trai Turner had turned his man loose as part of the play, but by the time Cam corralled the ball, Davis was in his face.

5:42 Q1, 2nd & 8, CAR 44- Alex Okafor sacks Cam Newton for -1 yard. Another technical sack, both tackles did a decent job washing their man out of the back of the play. Cam Newton steps up and starts to scramble, but quickly runs out of room as Okafor pulls back around and Cam kind of runs into Trai Turner a bit.

3:14 Q2, 1st & 10, CAR 23- Cam Newton sacked by David Onyemata for -12 yards. Despite Marshall Newhouse holding Onyemata on the play (and getting flagged for it) he still gives up the pressure and sack.

9:42 Q4, 3rd & 7, NOR 49- Cam Newton sacked by Vonn Bell for -9 yards. I’m not sure who messed up here. Greg Van Roten initially blocks Bell and then lets him go, theoretically believing that Christian McCaffrey was behind him to take him, as Van Roten needed to pick up a late blitz by a linebacker. McCaffrey and Van Roten end up both going for the linebacker, and Bell gets a free shot on Cam Newton.

Thirteen pressures on 33 attempts is pretty bad, and besides the turnovers, is probably the reason we couldn’t eek out a win here, despite a golden effort by the defense. As usual, the Panthers will go into this offseason with a desperate need at left tackle, amongst others. We’ll see what they can dig up.

Defensive Hog Mollies

Yards per Carry: 4.8, season: 4.2 (T-10th, NFL)

Yards per Play: 5.2, season: 5.8 (20th, NFL)

Sacks given: 2, season: 32 (T-25th, NFL)

Third down allowed %: 4 of 13 or 31%, season: 40% (19th, NFL)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Hallucinogenic Hogs

4 out of 5 hogs

The defensive line had a much better day than we’re used to this season, but the real stars of the game were the men standing behind them. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis combined for 25 tackles on the day, and the defensive backs were able to limit a very strong New Orleans passing game to zero passing touchdowns. The first half was more of the same from what we’ve seen all season, a lack of pressure when rushing just four. In the second half the Panthers started to dial things up a little more consistently, and affected Drew Brees with the help of good coverage on the back end. Defensive end remains an area of extreme need heading into this year’s NFL Draft.

Hog Molly of the Week: Vernon Butler

Butler is still nothing like the player he was expected to be when he was selected at the end of the first round several years ago, but this was a good game from him. He ended up with a sack and was able to push the pocket pretty well from the inside in his rotational snaps. I don’t think we’ll ever get the value we hoped for from him as a player, but I do believe he can remain a part of this team’s rotation for a long time if he’ll accept an NFL yeoman’s salary. Those types of guys are needed too, as his running mate Kyle Love can willingly attest.