C3 Up, Three Down (Week 6)

C3 Up

The Carolina Panthers are still on a winning streak after their tie with the Cincinnati Bengals. The NHL got rid of tying, so why does the NFL allow it? I don’t have an answer for that, but thank you Mike Nugent for missing that field goal! The Carolina Panthers offense continues to put points on the scoreboard but so do the opponents. Where did the defense go?

What three things did the Carolina Panthers do well to tie week six?

1.      Superman Sighting – On game day Cam Newton walked into the phone booth in downtown Cincinnati and ripped off his uniform and let Superman loose! Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula finally released Cam Newton against the Cincinnati Bengals. Newton hasn’t been healthy all year and no one knew how healthy he was before this game. He led the Panthers rushing attack with 17 attempts for 107 yards and one touchdown. He had eight more rushing attempts than running back Fozzy Whittaker, who only rushed for 25 yards. Newton continues to impress this season with his passing and running abilities.

2.    We Can Score: – The Carolina Panthers defense carried the load the first four games of the season and now the offense is taking over. The offense has averaged 34.0 points per game in their last two games, and has the ability to get into a shootout with other NFL offenses. Newton continues to improve his accuracy with a 61.7% completion percentage and has limited his mistakes. Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen have played a key part in the success of this offense.

3.    Kelvin Benjamin – Who isn’t talking about Kelvin Benjamin? He finished the game with 49 receiving yards and one touchdown. His receiving yard total wasn’t that big but his touchdown was! As soon as Kelvin caught the ball in the end zone he was slammed but he held on. This shows his toughness and his catching ability. Benjamin leads all rookies with 416 passing yards and four touchdowns. He is 6’ 5” and is a beast in the red zone.

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C3 Down:

This week’s three down could have easily been six or seven down. Despite that, the Panthers were able to play to a draw with one of the top teams in the AFC. Cam Newton’s play in Cincinnati was incredible. He showed just how dangerous he can be as a passer and we saw the resurgence of the “tailback in a quarterback’s jersey”. Cam was an almost unstoppable force in this one. I hope he is able to continue his progression/ascension to the upper echelon of NFL quarterbacks.

As for the things we could have done better…
1.The first thing that really stuck out to me is the coverage of our secondary. It was a very loose coverage that played right into the hands of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has had a quick release this season. In fact it has been the quickest release of all quarterbacks in the NFL. These two factors allowed for Dalton to throw for 323 yards and 2 touchdowns. While completing 33 out of 43 passes, (about 77%). Receiver Mohamed Sanu benefitted the most from this type of coverage, reaching single game career highs in receptions (10) and yardage (120). Our secondary personnel and the limitations on their individual abilities is the reason we did not switch from out of this soft, loose coverage. Without a consistent pass rush, our secondary will continue to  be vulnerable to career days by receivers throughout the remainder of the season.
2. The defensive line was supposed to be a real strength on this defense. It has turned out to be a weakness most of the time. Another AFC North opponent that has excelled at running the ball against us. The Bengals ran the ball for 193 yards in this game. Steelers, Ravens, and now the Bengals have made our once top ranked run defense look like a junior varsity bunch. Poor tackling, a lack of discipline, and failure to maintain gap responsibility can all be listed as contributing factors in this defense’s epic free fall.
3. I don’t like to call out individual players because football really is the ultimate team sport, but there are those times when a player has such a terrible game he must be recognized for it. Charles Godfrey did not play well. I don’t know when the last time he lined up at nickel corner was but man he struggled Sunday afternoon. Play after play he was beaten by whoever he was covering. Now I know Godfrey was drafted out of Purdue as a corner, but most of his time in the NFL has been spent at safety. I foresee a move back to safety for Godfrey in the near future.

This was a great game for Carolina. The team needed to play a game like this, a close, hard fought, physical battle that they were able to fight in until the end. Yes it would have been nice to get the win but we were fortunate to come away without the loss. It seems ironic that in the preseason most Panthers fans were uncertain about the offense but felt supremely confident in the fact our defense would keep us in games. It has been the offense that has kept us in games and and the defense that keeps the opponents in them. In the meantime, we are still “Kings of the South”.   

By +Joe Riollano 
Follow that "Freak'n Puerto Rican" on Twitter @JoeRiollano