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Sunday, December 6, 2009

V/S Buccaneers, 12/6/09

Matt Moore with the win, Josh Freeman with the loss.

Freeman mattered more, with his five turnovers. Freeman easily would've been sacked at least 5 times as well (Carolina got to him twice) if he wasn't so freaking large and oddly mobile.

At any rate, Jon Beason picked two balls off in the redzone, followed by another from Chris Harris; Charles Godfrey had one early, Chris Gamble had one late. The sacks were from Peppers working inside (he was very effective there) and Nick Hayden (first career). Damione Lewis had good pressure inside as well, and a number of blitzes worked well (they did a good job of working Chris Harris into the box, and then on the weakside; they also worked James Anderson out there. What they'd do is rotate Peppers down, and put the blitzer outside - it forces you to either change your scheme for Peppers inside, which might not account for everyone, or have someone switch, leaving the blitzer).

Godfrey started at FS - not sure if that was the plan, or if Sherrod Martin was just too shaken up on the kickoff to play.

On offense, new starters Moore and Jonathan Stewart (Moore's 4th start; Stewart's first) led the team, Stewart getting a career high in carries (26 for 120, TD) and Moore being an efficient 14/20 for 161 and an INT (forced ball into Dante Rosario), and new 2nd back Tyrell Sutton clipped in 38 yards on 6 carries.

Moore hit Steve Smith on a 66 yard bomb, which led to a FG, Smith finishing with 78 yards on 3 catches. Muhsin Muhammad had 4 for 44. The passing game didn't always show as efficient as the stats suggested, with every drive after the first two in the first half stalling. Carolina held at 10 points and slowly watched TB pull six on the board, which could've easily been more if Carolina hadn't forced turnovers.

Line play was solid, giving up only one sack (there was also a somewhat botched play on a screen). Geoff Schwartz got playing time for the first time - he played at tight end on the Stewart TD and returned a kickoff (16 yards and injured TB's return man, Clifton Smith, when Smith tried to tackle him).

John Kasay went over 400 FGs on his career, and he's soundly in 7th place all-time. Fantastic work, John.

So, Moore started. It was refreshing to have a new starter - a bittersweet statement given that this team runs on Jake Delhomme and that it's a shame to have to be refreshed that he wasn't in. Moore had a lot of control on his passes, and what he lacks in experience or better judgement, he gets back in balls. Just as Delhomme wasn't the only problem, Moore isn't the only thing they needed as a solution, so hopefully the playcalling will be less conservative and more varied against suddenly-embattled New England.

At best, it's time to play spoiler. The way they played against Tampa Bay, spoiler is a lot to ask, too. But that's why they play the games. Hopefully, Deangelo Williams will be ready to play next week, Moore's confidence will be even higher, and the Pats won't be too sore about that one point loss this week.

As for Tampa? Thanks for the two wins, Tampa. Having five wins right now looks a lot better than three. You were a big reason we can now say we are somehow 3-2 in the division, Tampa. I don't know what Raheem Morris is doing out there - firing two coordinators, and on his third QB already. For Carolina's sake, I hope Tampa holds onto Morris for a few years. Maybe he'll redeem by hiring a new pair of guys in the offseason and building, but that team looks in disarray. It fights, it seems somewhat prepared, but I can't believe this team was 9-3 at this point last year (then again, same for Carolina).
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