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Saturday, November 3, 2007

A First Drive, Then A Defeat

  • That first drive against Indy was magical. While absolutely no big plays, we saw a bunch of variances in formation, few mistakes, a few tricks, and we always found a way to move the chains. The inside run was there, Vinny was making the throws. He and Hoover each made it as ballcarriers, gaining 6 yards each; Foster gained 17, Williams gained 8 - 37 yards rushing.
Violating the middle of the Colts' defense, and attacking the corners of the pass defense behind their elite ends, the Panthers were ramming it down their throats. If not for the fumble by Robinson, and the INT by Testaverde, we'd have led 14-0 midway in the 2nd. Even with the bomb to Wayne and the Addai TD, we'd have had a touchdown lead going in. With the 3rd quarter fumble that should've been a boost,

Maybe it was just a matter of time. You're not going to hold Peyton Manning scoreless, and he was taking deep shots in the first half, waiting on one to show. Was it going to be luck? Maybe, but they're too good to just be lucky. Inevitably, a few deep balls would connect, and we had to respond. We just didn't. And even with the momentum, the upper hand, we were making mistakes.

Overall positives - we stopped Freeney (Colts had 0 sacks) and Dwight Clark/Utecht overall, and were limiting Addai until the game got out of hand.
The middle of the defense was respectable in pass coverage, though 133 yards rushing is obviously not good enough.

Overwhelming negatives:
  • We can't stop the #1 receiver. Reggie Wayne was covered, but we didn't contest, for the most part, and he made plays with just one step. With Harrison out, why not more attention on him? Just as with the Houston game, with Andre Johnson lighting us up, we didn't stop the most aggressive option on the field, which is critical for this defense.
  • Carr plays far too safe, and Vinny's hurt. Carr almost got Jeff King hurt, and it ended up hurting DB Marlin Jackson (a weakness we obviously didn't flaunt). Nonetheless, he fed King and didn't bother with the receivers, the only way we'd get back in the game. It doesn't appear the team has confidence in Carr, even if the staff does.

Targets (each QB had a half, Testaverde had 20 att, Carr 25)
Steve Smith - Vinny 6 (3 deep, 0 caught; 2 catches total), Carr 1 (not caught).
Jeff King - Vinny (4, caught 3/19), Carr (19, 7 caught for 63 and a fumble)
Keary Colbert - Vinny 5 (3 caught, one INT at goal), Carr 2 (1 caught)
Drew Carter - Carr 1 (caught)
Christian Fauria - Vinny 1 (caught)
D. Williams - Vinny 4 (3 caught), Carr 3 (3 caught)

Carr just isn't looking downfield. 25 attempts, no sacks, but 4 looks at WRs. No shots downfield. Also, while he hit all of his 3rd down attempts (and a 4th down), only one third and one fourth down attempt made the first down. Execution is fine, but make something happen out there. At this point, Carr would need to be bolstered by an incredible team effort, as opposed to him earning his own keep. With Testaverde banged up, Carr will have to be better than he is right now for us to go anywhere.


Also:
  • If Geoff Hangartner is going to insist on settling under kicks, people will keep kicking it short right at him. If he's going to be out there, he needs to be ready to do so and stop running like a timid hippo.
  • What's happening to Ken Lucas and Richard Marshall? In my opinion, thought to be our two best corners, Lucas and Marshall each got burned this week badly. Maybe Chris Gamble is, in fact, the best of the three. Gamble is a free agent after 2008, giving us this year and next year to consider whether he's good enough to keep over Marshall, signed through 2009, or whether to dump Lucas, the expensive of the three, who's signed through 2010 at a premium rate.
  • With Curtis Deloatch making some plays right before getting hurt, that's a loss. He was a solid special teamer, as well. In the time since cutting Jared Bush, at the time our 5th corner but still a very promising backup in 2006, we've lost Reggie Howard to family issues, Ken Lucas to herb supplements and Chris Gamble to a groin (both of which cost them games) , Dante Wesley to an ACL, Deloatch to an ACL, and now have also run through Derrick Strait and a host of others replacing him, now going with
  • Ryne Robinson broke one good punt, his first realistically decent punt, and it was called back for holding that helped precipitate the return. Robinson may develop, but when you hand the job to a guy you expect him to do it. He can't return punts well, he's awful at kick returns, and now we're having to use Williams to return kicks with Nick Goings out.
  • We look so much better scripting plays than just making those decisions. We're vanilla without planning, but Davidson's scripts are good stuff. We need to script every opening series, and have some idea what we're going to do after.
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