Carolina lost a meaningless game up in Philly Thursday night, but the
manor of play left plenty to be desired.
Philadelphia's whirlwind, fast-paced, frog-in-a-blender style of
offense was a strong test for a Carolina defense that struggled harder
to control the line of scrimmage than it had against the Bears. The
Eagles, who had lineplay issues last year due to injuries, looked more
to form again; the Panthers' DL appeared powerful and quick, but often
had issues diagnosing.
For instance, Charles Johnson made numerous plays (a batted ball, a
fumble recovery downfield) but on one Lesean McCoy run, Johnson crashed
down (it looked like a busted move on CJ's part, but it appeared to make
sense for the scrape exchange move - problems being that Johnson was
juked, and the LB looping around never showed) and left a massive hole.
Greg Hardy made a nice couple of moves in redzone defense, including
forcing the INT on the initial series that floated into Josh Thomas'
Without that INT, it could've been a tougher looking scoreboard at
Carolina trailed, but kept it somewhat close. Unlike the Patriots, the
Panthers didn't attempt to match the Eagles' pace. They attempted to
match their scoring, but to no avail. Carolina ran the ball - with
backups hurt, Deangelo Williams took almost all of the first half
rushes. DW gained 38 yards on 12 rushes, having some nifty runs but
being stuffed a number of times to bring his YPC down. Williams was
also thwarted on a good looking screen run in which a lineman got in his
way, allowing pursuit to arrive.
So, the offense carried some of the same relative issues as the defense
early - lack of intensity, not being on quite the same page. Cam Newton
and Steve Smith had a few struggles getting together; Newton finished
8/17, not terribly efficient. Newton didn't make any terrible reads,
but struggled a little more with accuracy. Comparatively, Newton threw
deeper than last week, anecdotally (I haven't charted him), so some of
that will come. But in total, the offense just didn't have consistency
and didn't finish in the redzone - first time the team hasn't scored a
TD offensively since 2010.
At WR, it was a good night for David Gettis (5 catches, 82 yards)
including a nifty sideline catch that has Gettis' improvement showing.
Always a body catcher, Gettis hasn't had the problems with drops that
other receivers have (with admittedly fewer data points) but the body
catching is its own problem (and there's logic behind that; you can be a
lot more open if your catching radius is your reach, not the reach of
your number). Gettis' night would've been complete had he brought in a
deep ball he dove for, but you can let that one go most days.
Ted Ginn pulled down a couple of balls playing as the 3rd WR, better
than his one catch with the backups on 7 targets. Ginn won't get a ton
of targets in the regular season, so he needs to make the most of them.
Brandon LaFell didn't get any targets that I remember. Kealoha Pilares
didn't do anything of real worth. The tight ends didn't pull off
anything exceptional, the best coming from FB/TE Richie Brockel snaking
his way up the sideline on the only pass I remember him catching.
The offense and defense came out of the second half with more
intensity, and more production, but the scores didn't follow. An
uninspiring effort against a weird opponent, it's not time to freak out,
but it's not ideal either.