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Ron Rivera has had his ups and downs. Last season was ripe with areas of criticism. It was the hope of Panthers faithful everywhere that he had learned from his mistakes. His decision to take his three timeouts into the locker room at halftime has to make us wonder if he has learned anything at all.
Up 7-3 on Seattle, the Panthers got the ball back with roughly 45 seconds left in the half. The Panthers had three timeouts and were around the 20-yard line. Rivera opted for a dive play to Mike Tolbert, and then scampered into the locker room with his timeouts and time on the clock.
My issue here is the message it sends. To me, it says "Take no chances." I wonder if Rivera wishes he had at least attempted to get into field-goal range as the clock hit zero.
Mike Shula did something I didn't think was possible. He neutered Newton this past Sunday.
Not only did the offense not produce more than seven points, but Newton threw his lowest yards per attempt of his career (5.4) and greatly limited his deep-pass options. Newton is one of the best deep-ball passers in the league.
To make matters worse, the play execution time was so incredibly slow one could take small cat naps between plays. For all the talk about playing fast, it was not to be seen in Week 1. It took the Panthers roughly 30 minutes to run 50 plays Sunday. That's about a play every 36 seconds. Compare that to last season when the Panthers ran a play roughly every 27 seconds.
The Panthers offense did exactly what it said it didn't want to do.