Carolina dropped more points (7, on the Steve Smith would-be TD pass in
the first quarter) than it scored (6) yesterday.
And its OL surrendered 33% of that on a safety. The offense's net
points? 4. Four net points. That's not taking away anything for
points off turnover, that's a negative score. This is just points the
offense physically gave up while on the field.
I like Mike Shula. I like Ron Rivera. I believe their style of
football is, or at least was, just right. I don't like four net points.
Something has to give.
Don't get me wrong. The coaches are only the end-point. They're
responsible, but players had their hand in it. Cam Newton doesn't throw
up a couple of balls he shouldn't have, without being responsible.
Smith doesn't drop a TD pass because that's how it was drawn up.
Brandon LaFell didn't drop a 4th and 1 pass because that's how it was
drawn up - you could argue, hey, don't pass on 4th and 1 with the NFL's
3rd leading rusher, a massive short yardage back, or a just as massive
running QB all able to go get that yard, and you'd make sense. But the
play was designed and called correctly, and should've worked.
And if they had, chances are I wouldn't be typing this. That's how
that goes. Cam doesn't take a sack that pulls Carolina out of FG range,
that's 3 points. Smith catches his, that's another four past the FG
they got. Let's say to be conservative, that the LaFell drop on 4th
down and the two INT were only partially reversed and the team gets 6
points out of that, too. That's 13.
Which would've given Carolina a 19-13 lead late in the game and maybe a
little more confidence to finish the game.
A much less conservative estimate, which is that they get the full TD
on each of those situations, is 35 points. 35-13 would definitely be a
different article right now. The thing is, 6 more points or 35 more
points, it was there for the taking.
And yet when Carolina went from 3 up to 4 down, I was almost
conditioned to think that was a two posession game. You have one of the
most dynamic quarterbacks in the league, and enough weapons to make
something happen. Right now, I should be talking about how this team
has built a streak - how it's resurging at the last possible minute to
do exactly what it can. This should've been the beating of another bad
team, but something to grow on.
Instead, I'm left wondering about all involved. Has Steve Smith
finally lost a step? Will Brandon LaFell be worth the time that they've
put into him? Is there anything on the line left building on, except
for Ryan Kalil? Will Greg Olsen continue to be effective after
defenses have all of the above figured out?
Is Cam Newton the guy you build on?
It's a massive swing, isn't it? You go from a 38-0 blowout, to four
net points. I'm willing to accept that the Giants game was an anomaly,
and I've always said that teams are overjudged in both blowout wins and
blowout losses. But those two concepts, ideally, would not happen
concurrently. And, in the aftermath of both, I wish the Giants game was
repeatable, but it appears to have been familiarity with the NY squad on
various levels; that leaves the AZ game looking a lot more repeatable.
And that's just not good enough.