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Posted on: October 19, 2008 6:14 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:14 pm
 

Panthers Rebound: Pound Saints

After a terrible Week 6, the Panthers came into Bank of America with something to prove.  Today we hosted the New Orleans Saints.  As a starter, Jake Delhomme was coming in as 6 - 2 against his former team.  Sean Payton as 1 - 4 against the rival Cats.

After an embarrasing performance last week, the Carolina Panthers put together a dominating performance that started in the 1st quarter.  A 10 play just under 6 minute drive that culminated in a John Kasay Field Goal to put us ahead 3 - 0 on the opening drive.  The Saints final drive of the 1st quarter placed them in the red zone.  At the beginning of the 2nd quarter, Mike Karney punched it in from the inch line for the Saints only score of the game.  The next Panthers drive stalled, but we were able to contain Reggie Bush on Punt Returns until he left the game at halftime with a hurt knee.

Offensively

Carolina began to get thier running game going and got an 18 yard scamper from Jonathan Stewart, his 5th TD run of the year.  Both DeAngelo Williams and Stewart ran the ball over 15 times (18 and 17 respectively) for 68 yards apiece.  Jake Delhomme got settled in the pocket and was able to play one of the best games of his career.  He passed for 64% completion percentage (14 for 22) 195 yards, 2 TD's and 0 interceptions, culminating in a 122.35 passer rating.  Steve Smith and Williams both caught TD tosses, the former being between 2 Saints defenders.

Defensively

The Carolina defense started off strong, but gave up a long 2nd drive for a TD.  After that point, the defense settled down and refused to let the Saints drive.  Julius Peppers was in the backfield all day, but only got a sack and forced fumble to show for it.  The Panther secondary, Ken Lucas, Richard Marshall, Charles Godfrey, and Chris Harris had great coverage the entire day, no allowing the big play.  We forced 2 turnovers and were in position for more.  The defense shut down the on of the top offenses in the league, and created excellent opportunities for the offense to make plays.

The defense was able to contain Drew Brees' favorite targets in Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey the entire day.  Although the Saints running game got started early, we began to shut Bush down before he got hurt, allowing the secondary to worry about coverage rather than containing the run.  Ken Lucas picked off Brees, while Julius Peppers forced Shockey to fumble, which was picked up by Chris Harris.

Special Teams

On special teams, Rhys Lloyd got the game started off right with Touchbacks on the kickoffs.  Our kick/punt coverage contained Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas not allowing a big return.  Jason Baker allowed the punt coverage enough time to get down the field with long, high punts.  Our blocking on the punts allowed Baker enough time to get off the punt.  And our kick/punt returners played smart, calling fair catches when the opposing coverage was in place and running North and South when there was an opening.

OVERALL good game by the entire Panthers team.  John Fox should pull a page out of Mack Brown's (coach of Texas Longhorns) book and bury the game ball so that the Panthers will focus on the October 26th matchup with the Arizona Cardinals.  I'm looking forward to another great game.
Posted on: October 12, 2008 10:24 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:15 pm
 

Mistakes Lead to Blowout Loss to Buccaneers

A very dissapointing game this week, but it could have been worse.  The Buccaneers came in with something to prove after a loss to the Denver Broncos last week.  The Panthers came in maybe overconfident after a 34-0 drubbing of the Kansas City Chiefs last week.  The Buccaneers beat us 27-3.

Does this mean that the better team won?  Not necessarily.  Does this mean that we aren't as good as we thought?  Definetely not.  Is this the game that decides where we are as a team?  I don't think so.  What this loss means is that we need to regroup, have a good week in practice and come out at Bank of America Stadium next week with something to prove against the New Orleans Saints.

Does this mean that the better team won?  Not necessarily.

I guess the real question would be, does the better team ever win this game?  Who is really the better team?  IMO, this game does not determine the better team.  I think it is rare that there is a better team in this rivalry.  Actually, I believe that these 2 teams are as evenly matched as possible.  Two of the best defenses in the league, matched up against two efficient offenses that want to establish the run with two evenly matched backs.  In this rivalry, the winner is the one with the least mistakes.  That was the Buccaneers.  The Panthers started off with yet another blocked punt.  The 3rd of the season, the 2nd for a touchdown.  Jake Delhomme threw 3 interceptions, a misleading stat seeing that all 3 were tipped passes from the receivers hands.  The Buccaneer defenders were in the right place at the right times.

Does this mean that we aren't as good as we thought?  Definetely not.

I think that a game like this, is a game that is played only from emotion.  In a rivalry game, I don't think that skill plays a part in the game.  A rivalry game is played on emotion, and won or lost on emotion.  Who wanted it more; if this was the question, I would definetely have to say the Bucs, and that is why they won.  The Panthers played complacent and did not come to play.

Is this the game that decides where we are as a team?  I don't think so.

Again, in a rivalry game this big, I don't think you can judge your team from the performance.  Perfect example, the Chiefs and Broncos game 2 weeks ago.  In rivalry games, any team can win in any game.  It is very rare in the NFL, to see any team dominate a rivalry.  Especially seeing that Carolina has owned Tampa at Raymond James Stadium since 2002.

I fully expect Carolina to come out next week firing on all cylinders and expect for them to bounce back from this loss with a nice win next week.

Posted on: October 11, 2008 10:50 pm
 

A Swashbuckling Encounter

With another encounter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looming, the Panthers look to extend their lead in the division.

Carolina and Tampa Bay always play good games, and this will be another game that will go down to the wire.  The way Carolina has been playing, we look to be going into this game with momentum on our sides, but in a divisional game, that doesn't really matter.  Tampa will come out strong and this game will be close until the 4th quarter.

After a strong performance last week, Carolina should come out strong early and be able to jump out to an early lead.  Look for the Bucs to go through the air after their running game begins to stall.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart will have to have strong performances and tire out the Bucs defense early to take the lead.  If the Panthers can hold onto the lead, we can control the ball to keep the lead and take a game at Raymond James.

My Call:

Panthers: 31
Bucs: 24

Category: NFL
Posted on: October 6, 2008 9:04 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:16 pm
 

Panthers Continue to Roll: Smother Chiefs

I know that it has been 2 weeks, but my absence was for a reason.  As some of you may have noticed, in my previous Weekly Previews, I guessed the opposition's score exactly, and I wanted to see if I didn't post the score, if I would still get it right.

Week 4's preview proved to be a bad example.  Guess what I thought the score would be.  If you guessed that I said the Falcons would have 9, you would be correct; although I said the Panthers would have 27.  Unpleased with the results, I decided to try 1 more time.  This week I guessed that the score would be Panthers - 31, Chiefs - 14.  A 17 point spread.  And leave it to the Cats to prove me wrong, only in a good way, they to decided to pitch a shut out and add 3 points to my prediction.  Because they did this, my opposition's score guess has now been incorrect and I may return to posting on my blog.

THANK YOU PANTHERS!!!

Week 5 Impressions

In the last 2 weeks, Carolina has proved that they can win the games that they should.  Something that has been missing in Carolina for the last 2 years.  They have also moved thier home record to 3 - 0, after a 2 - 6 mark last year.  The Panthers rush defense has yet to allow a 100 yard rusher and only 1 rushing TD to Bears FB Jason McKie from the inch line.  We have had matchups against LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Michael Turner, and Larry Johnson.  We have given up 97 yards, 92 yards, 77 yards, 56 yards, and yards respectively.  Chester Taylor gained 44 yards and Jerious Norwood put up 51 yards.  So we held the top 2 running backs (Tomlinson and Peterson) from last year to only 174 yards and 0 TDs.  And this years top 2 running backs (Peterson and Turner) to 133 yards and 0 TDs.

Carolina's 19th ranked rushing defense coming into this weeks game, held another top running back in the league, who posted over 300 yards and 3 TDs over the last 2 weeks, to only 2 yards and again 0 TDs.  After Week 5's game, Carolina is now the 4th ranked defense in total defense, and the 3rd ranked pass defense.

The defense looked spectacular throughout the game.  Their speed was unmatched by the Chiefs offense, and they swarmed to the ball carrier on every play.  The DLine gave constant pressure and did not allow the running backs to get to the second level.  They pulled in 3 sacks (Julius Peppers, Tyler Brayton, and Charles Johnson) and a forced fumble (Julius Peppers, recovered by Damione Lewis).  Peppers has now racked up a sack in each of the last 3 games.  The Linebackers filled the holes left by the DLine in the running game forcing the below average Quarterbacks to throw the ball.  This lead to an interception by Jon Beason.  The secondary played tight coverage on every snap forcing the QBs to make bad decisions which led to yet another interception, this time by Ken Lucas to stop a good Kansas City drive.  In total the defense held the Chiefs to just over 150 total yards, and 0 points with 3 total turnovers.

The offense was just as spectacular, although some mistakes were made.  The Panthers turned over the ball twice in the redzone.  A Jonathan Stewart fumble, and a Jake Delhomme interception.  Besides those, the Panthers lit up the scoreboard and the statsheet putting up 34 points and torched the KC defense for just under 450 yards.  Stewart and DeAngelo Williams ran for 195 yards (Delhomme added 1 yard, and Goings added 10 for a total of 206 yards).  Delhomme added 236 yards through the air with 2 TDs and an interception.  Williams caught a TD and ran for 2 and Mushin Muhammad caught the other TD.

Overall, the Panthers played a great game all around and looked like the a completely new team from last year.

Posted on: September 23, 2008 12:05 am
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:17 pm
 

2nd Half Slump Leads to 1st Loss for Panthers

The Carolina Panthers struggled to do much of anything in the 2nd Half of Sunday's match with the Vikings.  They came out strong in the first half creating a 10 point defecit for the Minnesota Vikings.  With less than 2 minutes left in the half, the tide turned quickly when Antoine Winfield blitzed from the corner to jar the ball free from Jake Delhomme's hands and picking it up for a touchdown.

As a tribute to one of the Panthers fans on this board (big davis), I will tell what I thought about this game.

The Good

The good part of Sunday's game was the fact that we came out strong against a very solid defense.  We finally brought back Steve Smith, and although we lost, he played good football.  Jonathan Stewart was able to score his 3 Touchdown of the season, in as many games (3 in the last 2 games).  The defense yet again played aggresively and only allowed 1 offensive Touchdown.  Tremendous seeing that they were on the field over half of the game.  Julius Peppers got his 1st sack of the year and the defensive line is ever improving.  We also held the Vikes to 0 for 3 in the redzone.  Whereas we were 1 for 1.  We also got our 1st interception of the year by Chris Gamble.  Yet again, the Panthers did not allow a 100 yard rusher (LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor) and have only allowed 1 rushing touchdown (Jason McKie of the Bears).

The Bad

The bad part of Sunday's game was the play of the wideouts, to include the tight ends.  Although Steve Smith played great and had 4 catches for 70 yards (6 catches for over 100, if im counting right, if not for penalties), the rest of the squad had way too many drops.  Smith was our leading receiver with just 4 catches.  More bad would be Jake Delhomme, he overthrew a lot of passes and a couple should have been interceptions.  He also stayed in the pocket too long, which caused the fumble return for the Touchdown.  The running game was nonexistent partially due to the playcalling, which brings me to...

The Ugly (or in this case, THE PITIFUL)

Playcalling, playcalling, playcalling.  I don't know how many years the Panthers fans have fussed about how conservative we play on both sides of the ball.  We finally begin playing more aggresively on defense throwing in different schemes, coverages, and blitzes.  But offensively,  we run the ball on 2nd and long when we should run a quick slant or an in/out pattern to pick up 5 or 6 yards to make the 3rd down easier to convert.  3rd downs, we are normally stuck in a long situation, which in turn is giving us one of the worst 3rd down conversion rates in the NFL.  The offensive line was terrible.  Sure most of the sacks came when the Panthers were stuck in a 3rd and long and trying to convert or a 2 minute situation, the OLine needs to hold their blocks.  The run blocking was terrible with purple jerseys shooting through every gap that was big enough to squeeze through, and when they didn't want to squeeze, they just jumped (EJ Henderson).  PENALTIES, PENALTIES, AND EVEN MORE PENALTIES.  Too many bone-headed penalties.  False starts have been our cancer for the past 2 weeks (11 in the last 2 games).  You could argue all you want that it was due to the crowd noise, but last week in Carolina, it was the exact same story.  This needs to be emphasized through practice this week or the problems will continue (apparently the speakers didn't work).  John Fox and company need to whip Jordan Gross and company into shape (hopefully getting Travelle Wharton back, this week or next, will help).

Let's see if the Panthers can regroup when they have an early divisional home game, hosting the Atlanta Falcons next week.

Posted on: September 20, 2008 2:47 pm
Edited on: September 22, 2008 11:24 pm
 

It's Time to Get Medieval!!

After a 2 week suspension, the Panthers finally get their Offensive MVP back on the field.  The addition of Steve Smith adds an extra level of explosion to a greatly improved offense from last years dismally productive squad.

In an offense that added a power back, Jonathan Stewart, that has been missing since the release of Stephen Davis, a rebuilt Offensive line that added bulk and speed, and a pair of receivers in Mushin Muhammad and DJ Hackett, Steve Smith will be able to be more productive, not only in the numbers, but opening up the offense for the rest of the team to produce.

Preview

The CATS are back and they giving their fans CARDIAC arrest.  (Hmmm! Maybe thats why their called the CARDIAC CATS, or possibly its the fact that they win the close games; I will leave that up to you). 

With Gus Frerotte at the helm, and both Adrian Peterson and Sidney Rice questionable, the offense of the Minnestoa Vikings is lacking firepower.  It will be interesting to see if Frerotte can produce the way he did in his prime rather than the way he played last year with the St. Louis Rams.

A defense that includes arguably the best defensive line in all of professional football, and an underrated secondary, the Vikings have an extremely strong defense.  A team that helms the best run defense from last year who added Jared Allen, the sack leader from last year is sure to give the Carolina Panthers offensive line a true test.

IF, Adrian Peterson does play, our defense faces a very strong test of a 2 headed rushing attack to include Chester TaylorJulius Peppers and Tyler Brayton will have to lead up the pass rush, while Maake Kemoeatu and Company contain the run between the tackles.  Jon Beason, Thomas Davis, and Na'il Diggs will have to stop the run before it reaches the 3rd level and also be responsible for the short dump offs to the running backs out of the backfield.  Chris Harris will head up the secondary, if he plays, and will need to make big plays and keep Ken Lucas, Chris Gamble, Richard Marshall, and Charles Godfrey on their A-game to try and force turnovers.

 

My Call:  Panthers 27, Vikings 20

Posted on: September 18, 2008 9:54 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2008 11:20 pm
 

2nd Half Surge Leads to Comeback Win for Panthers

Who is for real and who just got lucky? That was the question leading into Sunday's game matching up the Carolina Panthers and the Chicago Bears. This game would determine who's week 1 upset was legit, and who just escaped with a win. After the game, my opinion remains that both teams are for real. They both deserved to win in week 1 because they outplayed their opponents for 60 minutes of football. In week 2, they both played the game well. Carolina finished the game.

The turning point, or the play that put the fire underneath our feet, came with the Bears leading 17-3 in the 3rd quarter. With a 3rd and long 12 from the Chicago 34 yard line, the Panthers lined up attempting a first down. The ball was hiked and Jake Delhomme began going through his progressions, the pocket collapsed and Jake saw an opening. He tucked the ball and ran, he sees defenders closing in on him quick and pulls the right move by sliding. While in the process of sliding, Lance Briggs goes for a hit that leads his shoulder pad into Delhomme's helmet. By all means, this hit should have been penalized, if not for the hit on a sliding QB, then for the hit to the QBs head. While on the ground, Jake pulls off his helmet, and it appears that he may be done. He gets up and does only what the Raging Cajun can do, pumps his chest and goes off the field hyped. The whole team is now hyped because of the cheap shot and the Defense vows revenge. The Panthers added a 45 yard field goal to make the score 17-6, and to give the defense the field.

From that point on, the game was all Carolina. The offense was clicking, the defense was ferocious. The crowd was vehemently loud. The Panthers scored 17 unanswered to close out the game 20 to 17, how fitting.

First Half

In the first half, the offense looked terrible. They did not come to play, and it showed. The running game was ineffiecient and the passing game could not develop.  The offense only mustered 1 first down off of 47 yards in the half.  The offense constantly committed procedural penalties and shot themselves in the feet.  Although the offense could not move the ball, the defense kept us in the game by only allowing 10 points.

Second Half

In the second half, the offense came out weak and a pass from Jake Delhomme to Jeff King was intercepted by Charles Tillman.  This set up the Bears with a short 1 yard Touchdown run by Jason McKie. The next offensive drive saw Jake start making good passes and the offense began to settle in.  After crossing the 40, the Panthers faced a 3rd and 12.  This play saw Delhomme scamper for about 7 yards and take a late hit that sparked a fire throughout the entire team.  The defense stepped up on the next drive when Chris Harris casued a Greg Olsen fumble.  For the rest of the game, the offense moved the ball at will behind "The Bully", Jonathan Stewart, and the defense continually stopped the Chicago offense.

Posted on: September 11, 2008 8:57 pm
 

Lions, and Tigers, and BEARS!!! O MY!!!

Ok.  Heading into the end of the week, it is time to look into this week's game against the Bears.

The Bears looked excellent against the Colts, but were the Colts up to par?  Matt Forte showed that he is no Cedric Benson or Adrian Peterson (and I'm not talking about the good one).  Kyle Orton came back the way he was playing in the 05-06 season (no mistakes).  The Colts looked terrible on both sides of the ball.  Although Peyton put up great yardage, he only put the ball into the endzone once and that wasn't until the 3rd quarter.  I'm not sure if the Bears were that good, or the Colts were that bad (most likely the latter).

The Bears defense is always good, but what about thier offense.  My answer is average at best.  Though they appeared to torch the Colts, it was their defense that led the way.  The Bears rely heavily on their defense to create opportunities, the Colts fed the defense with a safety and a fumble return for a TD.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Offense

For the Panthers to be successful this Sunday against the Bears, we must depend on a heavy dose of BOTH DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan StewartJake Delhomme has to take care of the ball like he did last week against the Chargers.  We just played against one of the best secondary's in the league, and now we move to playing one of the most physical Front 7's in the league.  Our receivers will have to get open quickly and hold on to the ball in order for Jake to stay off his back.

Defense

Defensively, the Panthers have to play physical smashmouth football.  We did a nice job containing the best back in the NFL in LaDainian Tomlinson, and now we move to a rookie running back.  We need to throw in some DLine stunts and change up the looks to try to confuse Matt Forte.  To attack the quarterback, Julius Peppers and the rest of the line will need to apply pressure on every play to force him to make a quick decision.  Our secondary needs to throw different zone and man schemes to keep the offense on their feet.

Special Teams

Absolutely NO MISTAKES!!! The coaching staff needs to shove this down their throats.  We can not afford to have a mistake on Special Teams that cost us the ball.  No penalties, no fumbles, and NO Nate Salley's taking a punt that he shouldn't.  The return man, whoever he will be needs to focus first on catching the ball, then returning it.

Panthers Fans should look forward to a great defensive matchup and the game will be decided off of mistakes.

My call, Panthers 30 Bears 17.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com