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The Good, Bad, and Ugly of the Preseason Opener

 

Panther fans have good reason to be excited after Saturday’s victory over the Giants in the first preseason game of 2011. The offense moved the ball and the defense stopped it. What we didn’t see was a lot of 3rd down conversions or redzone pressure, but I think we all expected the young team to fall short in several areas. Not to mention that this game was played without 10 of its original starters including #1 WR Steve Smith and defensive captain Jon Beason. From QB to CB there were some ups and downs and here are the specifics:

 

Quarterback– Clausen did a lot better than last year minus the pick-six. If you are going to throw a pick, make up for it and he did with an 18 yarder to Greg Olsen for TD. He finished after one quarter 4/7, 1 INT, 1 TD. Cam Newton didn’t blow anyone away with his stats, but what we did see was a confident youngster with the ability to lead an offense upfield. With him at the helm we were able to tack on 6 points in FGs and keep the defense guessing. He finished after the second and third quarter 8/19 for 134 yards and a big smile on his face. GOOD

Runningback– Not much to write home about with the running game from DWill and Stewart, but they did their jobs. For only playing about one quarter a piece, they made solid gains and moved the chains. GOOD. The rest of the game was pretty much all Mike Goodsen and I wish I had better things to say, but I think two fumbles and 30 yards running says it all. BAD

Receivers– I think we can say that most of the incomplete passes from this group were either rookie mistakes or off-the-mark passes. Although, a couple more catches from Armanti Edwards and Cam’s numbers would have looked a lot better. Still I can’t complain.  TE Greg Olsen lead this group with 58 yards and a TD. The rest of the receivers pulled in around 30 yards per pass completion as an average including Keoloha Pilares’ 35 yard catch and run for the second TD of the game, despite limited pass completions. GOOD, but needs improvement.

Offensive Line– In this first quarter alone, Clausen was sacked twice, some of the line were falling over each other, and Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul made Jordan Gross look like a rookie. At moments this group tightened up and made some good pushes for the running game and others made me thankful no QBs were hurt. UGLY

Defensive Line– This group did a great job shutting down the run. Especially a team with RBs like Ahmad Bradshaw, Danny Ware, and Brandon Jacobs. Sione Fua needs to get a little quicker if he wants those sacks, but he did a good job on the wall Saturday. GOOD

Linebackers– This group didn’t let down despite not having leaders Beason and Thomas Davis. James Anderson held his ground alongside Jordan Senn, who had a great game, and Thomas Williams made a big statement. This group did well in limiting the Giants’ running game and stopping up short pass plays preventing 3rd down conversions all game. GOOD

Cornerbacks- With both Chris Gamble and Captain Munnerlyn out, it was up to the young guys to hold it down. Kendric Burney was someone I saw more than once making a big stop including a diving block to prevent a 1st down late in the game. R.J. Stanford kept many a Giant completion out of receiver hands and doing what is needed to increase the depth of reliable CBs. GOOD

Special Teams– On kick offs, punts and returns, this group was handing it to the other side. Armanti Edwards had two impressive returns for 20+ yards to add to his 36 yards receiving. Goodsen had a few decent returns as well minus the fumble on one. Defensively this group was able to stuff the Giants’ return game and deny a 44 yard field goal attempt late in the game. GOOD

 

Great day for the Panthers and many of the individuals who are fighting for jobs. They were a little sloppy with false starts and need to tighten up the offensive line a little more if they want stay competitive. Despite little time in the offseason to prepare, if this team continues to improve and stay healthy, we could see a solid ball club for years to come. Especially with our 10 starters coming back. I’m definitely looking forward to next week.


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