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Breaking Down the Carolina Panthers, Part One

| October 5th, 2010

Having sat through the Carolina Panthers/New Orleans Saints game, and now waking up from the coma it put me in, I can safely say this Panthers team would be better than their 0-4 record if they had a viable starting quarterback.  (I still don’t understand how the Panthers and Cardinals believed they could succeed this year with their respective quarterback depth.) Here’s my breakdown of the Carolina Panthers offense.  Defense and special teams coming tomorrow.

  • Jimmy Clausen may turn into a terrific pro quarterback but he’s not even close currently.  Aside from a brilliant play he made scrambling to his right on the Panthers final drive, Clausen lacked accuracy and pocket presence throughout their loss to the Saints.  He’s also got an odd problem with having his passes knocked down.  Three times he seemed to throw the ball directly into the hands of a defensive lineman.
  • The other strange thing about Clausen is twice during the game he had no clue how far the play clock had run, leading to Steve Smith (which I’d never seen before) and John Fox having to call timeouts.
  • DeAngelo Williams should scare the Bears a bit because he’s a combination of Ahmad Bradshaw’s speed and escapability and Brandon Jacobs’ power over the middle.  If the Bears have him in the backfield, they must bring him down.  If they don’t, he can rival Peterson and Johnson’s big play ability.  The Panthers want to hit home runs on the ground, not through the air.
  • The Panthers show a serious hole on the right side of their offensive line with Jeff Otah injured.  I don’t expect Julius Peppers to spend a lot of time in front of Jordan Gross.
  • Bear killer Steve Smith is injured.  Dwayne Jarrett Braylon’d his way out of town.  That leaves the Panthers with three rookie wide receivers: David Gettis, Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards.  If the Bears get beat by this quarterback and these receivers, forget the playoffs.
  • I will say that the receiver Clausen has a nice rapport with is David Gettis.  He was very comfortable throwing a mid-range back shoulder ball to him down the right sideline and looked for him on the big final-drive toss.  I don’t do fantasy football but Gettis could catch a bunch of balls Sunday.
  • Here’s what the Panthers want to do on offense.  Run on first down.  Run on second down.  Run on third down.  If they must throw, throw for a couple yards and move the chains.  On a big third-and-short early, look for Clausen to throw a quick slant to the right side.   
  • At the end of the first half, they got the ball with 1:07 remaining.  They punted it back to New Orleans with 54 seconds left.  This is not a good offensive team.
  • The Panthers made their biggest plays of the game when they spread Jonathan Stewart and tight end Dante Rosario out wide.  I’d expect to see them do this more, especially their inexperience at wide receiver.
  • The Panthers should have won this game, if not for the drive the Charlotte Observer describes as a “ball of confusion”.  After the terrific Jimmy Clausen throw, the Panthers had a first down on the cusp of John Kasay’s field goal range.  A short run up the middle put them in position to kick it.  They then lost four on a run and Jimmy Clausen took a sack.  On fourth down, Clausen heaved a jump ball to Dwayne Jarrett.  Game over.

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