My thoughts on the dreadful Carolina Panthers week three performance.
This was supposed to be a statement game for the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton’s first nationally televised NFL game, Thursday night all to themselves, in Charlotte, a banged up New York Giants offense, etc…. What could go wrong?
How about everything.
I honestly can’t think of a single positive from this game other than it’s over. The game started off on the wrong foot as the defense once again gave up an opening dive TD. That’s right, for the third straight game, the Panthers found themselves in a 7-0 hole. It has to be discouraging for the offense to always find themselves taking the field down by a touchdown. I’m sure it doesn’t completely change the game plan because there’s still plenty of time left in the game, but it likely makes the offense feel like they have to score because they have no faith in the defense.
The defense didn’t improve much from there. With Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks out of the game for the Giants, back ups Andre Brown and Ramses Barden stepped up with ease. Now maybe this was the coming out party for Brown and Barden and they’ll turn into future league MVPs, but I’d like to caution Giants fans as to what they saw on Thursday. This is an absolutely terrible Panthers defense. The secondary isn’t good, the front four can’t get any pressure, and the linebackers missed a lot of tackles. The only player that did anything positive on defense was Luke Kuechly, but he alone can’t carry an entire defense. The defense forced two punts the entire game. One was at the end of the first half, which made it pretty much meaningless for the offense and the field position battle and the other punt was muffed by Joe Adams and recovered by the Giants. It’s tough to win football games when your defense gives up points on almost every drive.
The offense wasn’t much better than the defense in this one though. With Jonathan Stewart out of the game again, the run game failed to get established. Cam wasn’t as decisive with his zone reads as he was last week and that once again halted the momentum of DeAngelo Williams. The team finished with 61 rushing yard, which obviously isn’t good enough to beat a team like the Giants. To go along with no running game, Newton failed to take care of the ball again by throwing three INTs. I thought the play calling reverted back to week one form as well. The Panthers had some success on first down but didn’t follow up on second down. It just seemed like all the momentum that the team had on first down was halted on second down and couldn’t be regained on third down.
Even the special teams got in on the sucking. As mentioned above, Adams muffed a punt, but he also fumbled the second half kick off. I had high hopes for Adams, figuring he couldn’t be any worse than Armanti Edwards, but so far he’s done nothing to prove me right.
This game pretty much proved why the Giants are the Super Bowl champs and the Panthers just aren’t ready. The stars were aligned for the Panthers to make a statement in this game. Instead they laid an egg and Eli Manning once again showed why he’s one of the best QB’s in the league, especially when he’s doubted. I knew this game would be a trap game for the Panthers because everyone seemed to be writing off the Giants despite the fact that they thrive when written off, but I expected them to put up more of a fight. There was no fight from this team on Thursday. The Giants took a knee and the Panthers just shook their hands.
I hope that the Panthers can just put this loss behind them and move on. Know that you did almost nothing right, but don’t dwell on it, and try to rebound next week. The team has 10 days to get ready for next week. And they’re going to need every bit of those 10 days to prepare for an offense like the Atlanta Falcons.