clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

What that bear’s doing: Panthers at Chiefs lineman of the week

It was an exceptionally valiant effort for the Panthers, but they just couldn’t quite make it happen against the best team in the NFL. Trench warfare definitely played a part in that.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

For those that haven’t tuned in lately, welcome to “What that bear’s doing” the 2020 replacement for the column formerly known as “The Hog Molly report.” We’ve changed the format a bit, in an effort to focus on the positives for this young team as they grow and gain experience together.

Hogs and Bears are both perfect analogs for linemen, and while the term “Hog Molly” is not unique to Dave Gettleman, it has become associated with him. I’m not changing it because of this, but merely, a better opportunity has presented itself with the Anderson quote. In “What that Bear’s doing” we are going to focus on one individual’s play in a given week, then talk about the lines more generally. This week, our bear of the week is:

Derrick Brown

The future is bright for the Panthers defense. We have a significant amount of rookie talent making a strong first year impact. While I think Jeremy Chinn has had more eye-popping moments as you’d expect given the position he plays, the blue collar work that Derrick Brown is doing needs more attention. While he had two penalties levied against him on Sunday, only the offsides was real (defensive holding on a d-lineman? Get out of here). His impact though given that he is now basically a full-time player (69% of snaps, second only to Brian Burns among DL) must be mentioned. The Chiefs had no shot running the football on Sunday, averaging a meager 2.5 yards a carry. They tested the interior early, but abandoned it quickly as they found it quite full of giant man-bear.

The run scatter-chart from Clyde Edwards-Helaire is just as meager as Bell’s above, and the Chiefs didn’t press the issue as they have no problem just throwing the football all the time. At that point, uneducated minds would think you neutralize what Brown can do for you. You’d be wrong.

Derrick Brown, though currently without a sack to his name, is terrifying enemy signal callers. The Panthers schedule has been brutal, about to face their 6th straight MVP quarterback in as many weeks, so it is safe to say that were we teeing up some easier targets he’d have already gotten home. The point is, though the Panthers defense is bad right now, it won’t be for very long as these young guys are only going to improve with all this experience they are getting.

Other bears of note (not named Sir Purr)

Nothing really has changed from my evaluation last week. Defensive tackle and inside linebacker have to be very high on the Panthers draft and free agency list this offseason, as do offensive linemen in general. Unfortunately now, I have to elevate left tackle once again, as I am just not feeling any of the guys who have replaced Russel Okung due to injury. Even less fortunately, Greg Little has yet to step up and take ownership of that left tackle of the future role despite all the opportunities given. Both Dennis Daley and Trent Scott have proven more reliable in their reps, and I just think it’s really likely that this will be Okung’s last NFL season.

All that said, I hope Russell Okung can come back healthy soon, because we really need to figure out the left guard situation. Chris Reed is getting routinely beat, and also picked up a costly hands to the face penalty as the Panthers tried to mount their late heroic comeback. Matt Rhule specifically pointed this out in his press conference, so I hope he is looking to make a change. It may be time to admit Greg Little just wont be a tackle, but might be comfortable at guard. Daley has proven pretty decent at guard. I would try both and see what works.

Defensively, another week, another Brian Burns highlight. This time on a “only this guy is this athletic” read option bust where he successfully plays both the handoff and the QB. They did not credit him for a sack on this play, but I do think it was supposed to be a pass option (lineman not downfield, receivers running routes).

It really is like a video game sometimes. I’ve not seen the twitch reflexes Brian Burns has in many players. I think if we had not been facing some of the best and most experienced quarterbacks the league has to offer, Burns would have double his current sack total, potentially more.

The words of wisdom from this weekly post, and others appear to be reaching the ears of Phil Snow. We saw more Jermaine Carter Jr. and Marquis Haynes this week, and less Tahir Whitehead. I’m sure they knew the Chiefs would air it out, and that coverage has not proven to be Whitehead’s thing. Despite the Chiefs production, I think this is optimal moving forward. Keep developing those young guys. Yetur Gross-Matos had a paltry 21% snap share, which I’m sure had more to do with pain management than anything else. Barring setback, I think we’ll see him back around 50% next week.