Carolina controlled this one pretty much the whole way - and they
knocked out a 30-20 win in front of the home crowd.
It provided pretty much everything you'd want to see - a score setup by
a great special teams play (the Jason Williams blocked punt), a
defensive touchdown (Captain Munnerlyn's 40 yard pick-six), and even
some deep passing by Cam Newton (who hit Brandon LaFell on a sweet 38
yarder, and hit Greg Olsen for a number of long gains). You got a
remarkable screen play brought to the house by Deangelo Williams, 72
yards, and the always entertaining fat guy TD (Mike Tolbert's one yard
walk-in - waddle-in? I dunno).
But, while the score could've easily been 30-13 without a late TD where
the Panthers were just playing in deep zones, I don't feel like this was
the thorough thrashing you might hope for. When you're in contention
for the 5 seed, or even with the Saints' loss, the 2 seed, you will
gladly take any win. But, Carolina's gotta finish these games a little
They have to punch the ball in a bit more - they started another game
with 2 field goals. While that gets overplayed - they didn't lose the
Saints game because they only got 6 on two long drives, they lost
because their offense and defense collapsed together in the second
quarter for a 21-0 Saints run - they do need to be less conservative in
their approach. Love that they're willing to pound the ball and that
they don't want to do it with Cam Newton if they can help it, but if
that's the case they have to be willing to take shots in the passing
game inside the 15.
I'd also have felt a little better about the non-blitz rush if they had
gotten there a bit more with the DL - I liked the Munnerlyn blitz with
the Luke Kuechly delay behind it, which netted three sacks (two on
Munnerlyn, one on Kuechly's cleanup). But you can't pull that stuff off
against Drew Brees, so don't bother bringing that. Basically, with
Brees, you have to be willing to call that rare blitz at the perfect
time - when he's both looking deep and you can get the pressure up the
Geno Smith, he's a guy you can blitz.
I'd have also felt better if Newton had been just a little sharper in a
couple of spots - he missed on two more screens, one of which could've
scored, the other a long gain. He had the jump pass, which is a tough
fundamental play anyway, open and missed it. Upside? He was efficient,
his 'bad' throws weren't in dangerous spots, and he made some things
happen downfield. I like that expectations are that a realistic ten
point win where Newton throws for 273 and a score, no picks, and hits
66% of his passes against a solid defense is disappointing.
It's also nice that the defense, giving up 20 points on a late score,
that that's disappointing. I like that Williams can have 168 yards from
scrimmage and feel like he still could've done more (the 72 yard
reception on the screen is an abberation, sure, but that's the #2 rush
defense and he had 5.4 yards a carry with a long of 18).
It was nice to see that Mike Shula could open it up a bit - he pulled a
statue of liberty play to Brandon LaFell, run last in '12, and another
reverse action play to Ted Ginn for 14 yards, but more than that, it was
the ability to let Newton throw up a couple of deeper passes. Teams
have started to crowd the run, and when you pass short, you're not
helping that as much, even if you spread.
So, a little to complain about, but hey, they didn't lose to the Rams
like the Saints did. A home win, I'll take that. Now, if they can
repeat it this week, obviously, even better.