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 keeping with the proven philosophy that building a team from the inside out is the best strategy for long term success, my goal will be to watch the hog mollies each game during the season and discuss their performance.
This week is a warm up week, and we are going to focus mostly on the positives in the Carolina Panthers opening loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. It’s a young season, and both the offensive and defensive lines are chock full of mostly young players (and one very very old one). These guys are going to have their ups and downs, and with this being a rebuilding season... you should be prepared for anything. This week we aren’t going to meticulously count pressures, whats sacks are whose fault, etc. and we’ll probably stay away from that for the first few games.
The Offensive Line
Overall, you can sum up this performance by saying “pretty good protection, but the run blocking was not great for most of the game.” Teddy Bridgewater generally had time, and when he didn’t had a pretty well defined pocket to step into and escape from. Only one sack on the board by a Raiders front that is probably going to be a middle of the pack unit on the year. Tackle play stood out to me. While Russel Okung may have one foot out the door and into the hall of fame, he settled in pretty well in the second half and gave us some solid left tackle play that we haven’t seen in a long time. Taylor Moton, still really good, still a guy who needs an extension as soon as possible.
The offensive interior, is probably going to be a sore spot all season. It doesn’t help you’ve got your backup left guard in already, but even if you do get Dennis Daley starting, you’re still talking about inexperience and a lack of familiarity at left guard. The lack of that strong interior is going to show up mostly in the run game, and you definitely saw it on fourth and short on our last offensive play of the game. The good news here, is that Daley could prove to be a very competent tackle turned left guard, a la Travelle Wharton. We just don’t know yet. John Miller at right guard, didn’t really stand out to me in either direction on Sunday. That’s both good and bad. I don’t recall him allowing a pressure, but I also didn’t see a ton of push in the run game which is what he’s supposedly good at.
The Defensive Line
The good news, Derrick Brown is already good, and if you expect some improvement as he gets comfortable he could be great. While I can’t ignore one bad error where he came off the ball really late, and then got doubled out of the play resulting in a Josh Jacobs touchdown (Richie Incognito probably shiv’d him), I have more examples of him standing strong against a double team, winning heads up, or showing why he’s more than just a run stuffing space eater.
Derrick Brown v Gabe Jackson. pic.twitter.com/5IjeJnaTih— John Ellis (@OnePantherPlace) September 14, 2020
The interior of our line is going to be a solid foundation for this year and the future. That’s the good news. Now, let’s talk about Pressure. I realize we didn’t get a whole lot of it. But, let me show you something important on that front. This is Derek Carr’s passing spread chart from Sunday.
You can’t really expect pressure on any attempt under 10 yards, and this is where our dearth of talent at corner and coverage linebacker gets exposed. Why hold the ball longer than you have to, if you can nickel and dime our defense to death? Carr attempted five passes over ten yards. Did we get a sack on any of those? No we didn’t. Is that fact SUPER embarrassing given the lack of attempts and the talent of the Raiders offensive line? Not really.
There are so many things working against the team this season. Even in a regular offseason, a team with a new rookie head coach, with so much roster turnover, is going to have a long adjustment period. This year, that is only going to be longer. We’d be doing guys a disservice trying to render harsh judgement on them after week 1. I won’t really feel comfortable until I’ve seen four games or so. Until then, expect a kinder, gentler, Hog Molly Report... and let’s try and find good things to talk about in what we know to be a heavy rebuilding year marred by this stupid disease.