The Carolina Panthers were able to grind out a 24-17 victory in the home opener over the Houston Texans to begin the season 2-0! This game had a little bit of everything from an ugly start to a defensive stand to squeak by the Texans.
1. Another slow start for the offense
The beginning of the game was very frustrating and honestly a snooze fest, as the first five drives the Panthers had four three and outs and just one first down. A huge contributor to the slow starts was the lack of experience of a young offense and the loss of the number one wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin! That showed up again on Sunday as the team had a few critical drops one on third and 13 by Ted Ginn Jr that would've continued the drive and most likely put some type of points on the board; the other was a laser thrown by Cam Newton right off of Kevin Norwood's hands causing an interception and once again taking points off the board. Things that can’t continue if the team wants to continue to win football games.
The team was able to pick up the pace in the second half and put the sluggish start behind them. The two guys that have struggled with drops the most, Ted Ginn Jr and Philly Brown, caught the two touchdowns to help seal this victory! I love that the team still has confidence in these guys and will continue to throw them the ball no matter what happens. I also love the fact that Cam Newton put this team on his back, scrambling and running the ball taking pressure off of the wide receivers and giving the Texans something else to worry about opening up passing lanes. As you can see, the team still has things to work through with these young wide receivers, but they can be ironed out and with more reps these guys will get better I have no doubt the offense will look crisper in the weeks to come.
2. Too many Penalties
The team also shot themselves in the foot on both sides of the ball with 10 penalties for 92 yards momentum killers for the offense and momentum starters for the opponents! Penalties are the most frustrating part of football because most of them are avoidable. In football the mental errors cost teams, games whether it extends drives and opponent score or they don't, but it keeps your defense on the field for longer than they should have been. The trickle-down effect everywhere when you have too many penalties and something the Panthers must clean up, especially when we play Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers, who have two of the best hard counts in the league. Another problem that is very fixable and what I like about this season's start for the Panthers yes, we have some shortcomings, but they are very fixable and we are very resilient and won't let these obstacles stop us from getting to the promise land.
3. The Offensive Line was the MVP
The biggest question mark for the Carolina Panthers coming into this season was how the revamped offense of line would perform in protecting Cam Newton, who has been hit and sacked the most since entering the league in 2011. It's only been two games, but they've passed the test of my book, allowing just two sacks to a defense that has JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Brian Cushing. The offensive line did a great job as a whole on Sunday, but Mike Remmers did a hell of a job against JJ Watt by preventing him from taking over the game! Watt only had five tackles and one sack. Carolina's line made him look human as he was pancaked on one play by Trai Turner. A perceived weakness looks to now have become a strength being able to stop one of the best defensive players in the league is a feather in our cap and confidence builder! These guys are playing with a chip on their shoulder and proving doubters that they can stop the best and help our offense succeed.
4. Josh Norman is a shutdown corner
The Panthers have found themselves a steal In Norman drafted in the fifth round in 2012 out of Coastal Carolina. he plays with the chip on his shoulder and one of those guys you love to have on your team, but hate to face. He lines up against the other teams best wide receiver. Week one, he faced Allan Robinson, whom he held to one catch for 27 yards against Miami Robinson had six catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. In week two he faced Deandre Hopkins, who had nine catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns in week one versus Kansas City when facing the Panthers and Norman he only had five catches for 53 yards. if that doesn't impress you, I don't know what will! This season he already has 10 tackles one forced fumble and one interception return for a touchdown. He is one of the best in the league, and it's fun to watch him ruin opponents days!
5. Kuechly does't need to rush back
Luke Kuechly suffered a concussion in the week one win over Jacksonville though doubt it's a huge loss as he is the best middle linebacker in the league today, but his replacement AJ Klein did a heck of a job in his place making the defining play in the game intercepting Ryan Mallet, which led to the eventual game-winning score. He also added 10 tackles looking very comfortable in his natural position and didn't miss a beat! This performance just proves he can hold down the fort while Kuechly gets healthy again people questioned why we drafted Shaq Thompson with our first round pick but now it seems genius as it just adds even more depth to an already ridiculously good position! It will be great when Luke comes back but we are in good hands until he gets back healthy and ready to be that tackling machine we know and love!
It obviously hasn't been the prettiest of two games, but all that matters is the score on the scoreboard when the clock hits 00! If our offense is able to get off to better starts it will just allow our defense to continue to dominate! I think the team is making strides on offense and with more reps and more experience they will get better and we will have more confidence in them! Our defense and offensive lines have stepped up huge in the first two games, and I expect that to continue! The best part about this team is they just keep pounding not grind you until you can't take it anymore! 2-0 feels so good, let's make it 3-0.....GO Panthers!!
By Cassidy Mcmahon