The Only Positive of the Panther’s Preseason Game Against the Patriots

Carolina’s first two preseason games reminded me of that inevitable moment in any guy’s life where the  hot girl in class is nice, and he gets courage to ask her for her number.  She is naturally nice, and even entertains his phone call. The third game, however, was the call where she told him she just wanted to be friends.  It stings. The euphoria so quickly dashed by a swift kick to the manhood.  That’s pretty much what happened last night at Gillette Stadium, where lady Brady said to Carolina, “kitty cats, aren’t they cute?”

The offensive line played terrible, the run game was non-existent, Cam looked indecisive at times and failed to connect on some easy open looks, the secondary blew coverages and missed tackles, and New England running backs ran through gaping holes left by a gassed defensive line.  On top of that, Greg Hardy re-aggravated his shoulder, Robert Lester sprained his ankle, Cam took a knee to the back, and everyone else who didn’t get hurt played gimpy anyway.  It was a long game, one that the Panthers never looked the least bit in control.

So is there anything good that the Panthers can take away from this Patriotic Beat Down? Let’s just say it isn’t Kony Ealy’s continued love for the spin move, reminiscent of ole Everett Brown. If there is one positive takeaway from this game, it is that the guys who Carolina really need to play well, and are supposed to play well, are playing well.  Kelvin Benjamin, Jonathan Stewart, Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechley, and Star Lotulelei are the studs Carolina needs them to be.

Kelvin Benjamin: He’s so damn big for a receiver.  He’s essentially a Jimmy Graham type tight end with #1 receiver chops.  This guy just flat out plays. Benjamin has performed greater than even his strongest supporters could have wished.  He continues to work every part of the field, get behind corners, work zone coverages, and make great catches.  Benjamin will be a Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate this year, given Cam’s affinity for the big receiver and his continued impressive play.

Kelvin Benjamin

Luke Kuechly: Get ready for another Pro Bowl year!  Kuechly will be the defensive player over the next decade that assumes a leadership role and affects every play in a Ray Lewis type capacity.  He has the opportunity become one of the greatest linebackers ever.  Kuechly has been a heat seeking missile in the preseason, and as long as healthy, he’ll continue to be a destructive force for the Panthers.

Thomas Davis: It’s hard to believe that, as well as Thomas Davis is playing, he’s the second best linebacker on the team.  He’s a top 5 linebacker, and would likely be the best linebacker on about 29 other teams.  Tonight’s Panther player of the game, Thomas Davis tallied 7 violent tackles and continued to demonstrate his football instinct. One of the commentators mentioned tonight that Davis believes that the knee injury discussion is a thing of the past and that he is playing the best football of his career.  He’s certainly picked right up where he left off last season.  TD and Kuechley continue to be the strongest linebacker tandem in the league. This former Dawg is hungry….let him eat!

Thomas Davis

Star Lotulelei: Tonight’s statline may not indicate it, but Star could turn out to be a Pro-Bowler as well.  In fact, mark me down, he’s going to be one this season.  Star is simply disruptive. He’s a great run-stopper, and he gets after the quarterback more than many expected.  Although he only had one tackle tonight, it was a big one for a loss.  Add a coterie of other effective defensive tackles, bookended by great defensive ends, and backed by two of the league’s best linebackers, Star should have a dominant like season.  He nearly had one last season.  No longer a rookie, Star will shine as he continues to learn the nuances of the position.

Star Lotulelei

Jonathan Stewart: He should be the starter. I said it. I hate that I said it, but Carolina’s offense is clearly more effective when he is on the field. I’ve always been a DeAngelo Williams fan, going back to his days at Memphis.  Nevertheless, it’s too clear that the Panthers are only going to run up the middle if he’s on the field.  Stewart has a bruising run style, but he can also be an effective receiving option out of the backfield.  This is something Williams has never been. Although, Stewart has never been healthy either.  If J. Stew can stay healthy, Carolina’s offense will be substantially more dynamic.  

Jonathan Stewart

Cam Newton: He went 8-12 with no turnovers.  It’s a decent statline, but it doesn’t highlight that the 4 passes he didn’t connect, which would have been drive sustainers.  He wasn’t good, but he wasn’t bad either.  Given that he hasn’t had the many reps with his new receivers because of the ankle surgery, Cam’s play should only get better.  He’s making good decisions and continues to choose his spots when to tuck the ball and run, but he has to get through his reads faster, put more touch on the deep ball, and simply relax and have confidence in his ability.

There’s really nothing fun about the hot girl classifying you as a “friend.”  It hurts the ego and challenges an individual’s confidence. This game was a lot like being befriended by the hot girl. It hurts. The Patriots embarrassed the Panthers last night. Hopefully, the Panthers will internalize this immediate defeat and learn from it, using the embarrassment as fuel for improvement.

So do you think there was anything good we should gleam from Carolina’s performance in Foxborough? Did we miss anything or anyone?  Maybe Philly Brown? Or, did we give too much credit to anyone?

Drop a comment below and let us know.

By the Professor aka +Cat Chronicles 
Follow me on Twitter: @Cat_Chronicles