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Monday, September 9, 2013

Choke City - v/s Seattle

A heartbreaking loss at home by 5 points in a tremendously low scoring
game.

In what appears to be a return to Foxball type principles, it could've
been easy to say that Carolina squeaked out a 14-12 (or 13-12/15-12
depending on the logical two point conversion attempt) in a defensive
battle. That was erased on a tough fumble by Deangelo Williams.

I can't blame Williams - his seven fumbles in seven years are still
remarkable - and it's tough to see a guy who had a good day like
Williams end it that way. He was headed toward winning that game
himself - depending on the two-minute drill that would follow, of
course.

And it's hard to blame the defense, who held a very good O to 12 points
and last year's 3rd ranked rush O to a reasonable amount of yardage.
The offense played small ball - running more, and throwing the shorter
passes against a top secondary, though it needed to take more deep shots
anyway. With Brandon Browner out, and their top 3 rushers gone as well,
you could see more deep balls. Cam Newton isn't to blame for the loss,
and he was very efficient. But there needs to be more yardage there.

So is DW to blame? Is Newton? Is Mike Shula? I don't play those
games. Those games are for people who blazed the internet minutes after
the game to eternally damn whoever they predetermined they'd blame.
It's a team game, and the team lost. It doesn't make it better to point
a finger. I won't even point at the Ron Rivera mistake of not going
for it on 4th and inches - something he constantly chooses not to do, no
matter how much sense it makes.

For Shula's part, I saw a somewhat dynamic offense. I saw an O that
did run some read option. I saw movement, shifts, some creative things
happening. It was an offense that was conservative in how it attacked
the corners, though, and hopefully that doesn't continue. Not
everyone's Richard Sherman, and Steve Smith had a decent day against
him.
So absent finger pointing, I'll throw some positives out there.

*Guards
For all that it mattered of the month studying Garry Williams' growth
and whether or not he'd be out there, Williams was hurt in the first
half. Between he and Amini Silatolu, that was a lot of concern about
two guards that wouldn't be on the field much this game. That left
Chris Scott, Travelle Wharton, and Jeff Byers in there, each moving
around a bit and each doing their best. It wasn't a disaster. Maybe
Silatolu will be back to add some stability, but this remains a focal
point - one that, for the moment, wasn't the issue I feared it would
become.

*DT
Star Lotulelei remains as good as advertised. Kawann Short added some
good rush in there. It might not be long before he is playing more than
Dwan Edwards in base. Colin Cole didn't give up any space, and for a
4th DT, that's exactly what he needs to be.

*Officiating
A backhanded 'positive', because they can't keep calling Armond Smith
for that stupid procedure penalty, much less unsportsmanlike, over and
over again now that there's clarification. Or, at least, Smith won't be
the gunner hopefully.
Also, Charles Johnson can't be held by Breno Giacomini all day for the
rest of the season, so there's a positive. I'd have felt better about
this loss if Johnson hadn't been mugged right in front of both a ref and
Russell Wilson on the TD pass.

*Charles Godfrey
Godfrey shouldn't lead the team in tackles with Luke Kuechly and Jon
Beason in - and both played well - but Godfrey laid some big hits, and
had a sack. It was also nice to see a Quintin Mikell sighting, though
if he played that much, I missed it. Was Mikell somehow playing FS and
Godfrey playing near the line? I can't say I noticed, or thought to
look, and TV broadcasts don't lend themselves to secondary viewing
anyway.

*Schedule
It's a tough schedule, but while I have no idea if the team will play
up or down to the level of competition, again I don't believe this team
sees an opponent this tough until week 10/San Fran.

*Cam
Not everyone will be in love with a sub-200 yard performance. He was
accurate, however, and while people overplayed Greg Olsen's 'drops',
there were balls that could've helped Cam there. But what I'm going to
bring up was that Cam was able to do more at the line, and I continue to
love the packaged plays (and his decisions with them). I don't yet know
how much leash Cam has at the line, but it's nice to see him being more
active there. And to go with the good decisions, it's better that Cam
didn't have a 3 INT meltdown in a winnable game.
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