Three Things The Carolina Panthers Did Well
The Atlanta Falcons flew into town and left with the lead in the NFC South. The Falcons currently have a 4-0 division record, and are tied with the New Orleans Saints for first place in the NFC South.
Coming into this game the Carolina Panthers and the Falcons were two of the worst teams in the NFC. The Panthers haven’t won since October 5th, and the Falcons have lost 5 of their last six games.
This game did not come with a happy ending, but I was happy with how well the Panthers played on both sides of the ball.
What three things did the Carolina Panthers do well week against the Atlanta Falcons?
Clutch Cam – Cam Newton going into the fourth quarter had a passer rating of 27.3. He only had 12 completions for 99 yards and two interceptions. The fourth quarter came around and Cam Newton put his cape on, and went to work. Newton threw for two touchdowns and finished the day with 292 passing yards. He threw a 22 yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin and a 47-yard bomb to Philly Brown all in the fourth quarter. Newton gave the Panthers a chance to win and showed the fans that the Panthers still have a shot at winning the NFC South.
Josh Norman – Josh Norman had a busy day at work. Norman was assigned the task of trailing Julio Jones all game. Norman held Julio Jones to only 59 receiving yards on 6 receptions. Jones was targeted a total of 11 times and was kept out of the end zone. Norman might be the only bright spot in the Panthers defensive secondary.
- Offensive Line – I can’t believe that I am saying this, but the Panthers offensive line did a good job! Cam Newton was only sacked two times and was only hit two times. This was a big improvement from the last game against the Philadelphia Eagles, where Newton was sacked nine times and hit 10 times. Is this a sign of more good things to come?
Three Things the Panthers Did Poorly
Once again Panthers fans were duped into thinking the winless streak was over. Just as Graham Gano lined up for the 46 yard field goal, the announcers mentioned his 25 consecutive field goal streak. It was at that point I knew the kick would be missed.
Kickers don’t do much in the NFL. The position name says it all. I hate the fact the game had to come down to a kick to “win” it. Truth be told there were plenty of opportunities to win the game well before the field goal attempt. Never the less that is what it boiled down to.
There seemed to be a tentativeness that the coaching staff experienced on that late game drive and in the end that is likely what cost us the game. I think Rivera has served his time here. He has had a rough go of it this year with injuries and roster make-up, but we need someone who coaches to win, not to not lose. Here are my three things to be down about.
Coaching Staff- It is clear the Panthers staff went all conservative on the drive leading to the first Gano attempt. Prior to that they had been doing a good job of moving the ball through the air. On that drive they decided to pound the ball once they were to get into field goal range. I believe they should have gone for another first down and ran more of the clock off. But hindsight is 20/20. This was a tough one to lose.
Secondary- Let me start off by saying Josh Norman is not to be included in this group because he did a fantastic job on Julio Jones. But everyone else should give back their paychecks this week and issue an apology to the fans. In particular Grandma Harper and Antione Cason played poorly. This is nothing new though. I still can’t believe we would bring Harper in thinking he could contribute in some way. He has been nothing short of a liability and I hope he is gone at the end of this season. Cason has been less bad but he still is a liability in coverage and should accompany Harper off the premises at the end of the season.
- Defensive Line- I think this group did well against the run. I just wanted to see a better and more consistent pass rush against a banged up offensive line like the Falcons had. We had some moments when we were able to get to Meg Ryan, but overall he went most of the day unhurried. Without the big push from our front 4 lineman, our secondary will continue to be exposed.
At this point in the season we are not going to get better. We can only hope other teams will begin to slip. Where is the team that beat the Detroit Lions? I miss that team.
That Freak'n Puerto Rican aka @JoeRiollano