At the beginning of the season, I felt all Matt Moore needed to do was manage the game. He didn’t need to win the game he just needed to not lose it. Unfortunately, three interceptions in the End Zone in week one and about eight turnovers through the first two games is clearly not good management.
Due to his poor performance, Jimmy Clausen became the new starter. He has trouble with the snaps let alone managing the game. His best game was against New Orleans when he had no turnovers, go figure this was the one game the Panthers were actually winning in, but on the winning drive he took a sack and ended up out of field goal range. He is a rookie and he is showing it, but he needs to get learning or the Panthers will be following in Detroit’s footsteps.
Double Trouble has not been any trouble for anyone this season. This is mostly due to a nonexistent passing game. The Panthers fall behind and assume they have to pass so the backs don’t get the carries. Neither DeAngelo Williams nor Jonathan Stewart has had 100 yards rushing in a game. Plus, almost every play there are eight defenders in the box which leaves for little running room. Williams and Stewart have done well when they get more than five carries, but as to why the two don’t get enough carries is a question for Offensive Coordinator Jeff Davidson.
The one guy getting lost in all this is Mike Goodson. Goodson is finally making his impact and has been a valuable passing target. He was the most consistent back until he was no longer being targeted. He is explosive and is one of the few bright spots this season.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends: D
This is not a F grade because the receivers are mostly rookies and the quarterbacks are playing like rookies. Unfortunately, I would expect rookies to at least catch the ball and get separation once in awhile. Dwayne Jarrett could not hack it on or off the field and is no longer a Panther, Brandon LaFell can’t catch or get separation, Armanti Edwards is basically nonexistent, and the only one to show any kind of skill is David Gettis who was drafted in the sixth round.
Now, Steve Smith is injured and the Panthers are relying on rejects Devin Thomas and David Clowney to carry the team. The best way to turn around the passing game is to get the tight ends more involved (maybe play all three at once) and my own revolutionary idea, coach. It’s still in the developmental stages but I think it could be big. I hope the Panthers implement it sometime this season.
Offensive Line: D+
The line has had a few moments, but overall it has been a problem. Jordan Gross is not playing at his usual level, Ryan Kalil looks over-matched, and don’t even get me started on Mackenzy Bernadeau and Geoff Schwartz. They were good when next to a veteran but the two on the same side spells disaster. I would take Jeff Otah right now over a healthy Schwartz. When he comes back the line will be a different animal. And again, it does not help that eight men are in the box and the passing game is off in the Bahamas somewhere. This team will not win until the line turns it around.
Yeah I said A, what you going to say about it? The Panthers defense was ranked 12th in total defense coming into this week. They rank fourth in passing yards per game and third in yards per play. They are also third in the NFL in interceptions and if they’d catch half the balls thrown to them they would lead the league by miles. So what if they are in the bottom third in sacks, the Chargers and Lions are at the top but only have three wins combined. They might be at the bottom in rush defense, but they are seventh in yards per rush. All this while being third in length of time spent on the field at more than 38 minutes per game.
This is a young defense that will dominate for years to come and lead the team to many wins but WE NEED AN OFFENSE.
Special Teams: B-
The Panthers Special Teams has been up and down all season. Coverage still has holes but they are not giving up as many big returns. Plus, now the Panthers have solid returners in Mike Goodson and Captain Munnerlyn. Munnerlyn’s only mistake came against New Orleans when he lost the punt return fumble and of course it would lead to a field goal which helped defeat the Panthers by two points, but other than that he’s been great.
Coaching/Management: E, F and G
Someone should write a book on how NOT to run a franchise and use the Panthers as the model. First, Management rids the team of every veteran and every player who made over $2 million, minus Brayton. Not retaining Na’il Diggs, Maake Kemoeatu, Damione Lewis and Hollis Thomas were good decisions. James Anderson has been a beast and the tackles have done a good job. Then there was the trade of Chris Harris and not keeping Julius Peppers. Harris’ presence was missed early on as the lack of leadership led to missed assignments and receivers like Hakeem Nicks having field days. Now, Charles Godfrey has stepped up so that wasn’t a horrible move, but not keeping Peppers? Peppers would have accepted a 4 year $60 million deal. I would have paid him an extra $2 million plus the signing bonus just for accepting it. Instead he’s now dominating in Chicago and our ends get very little pressure.
Next, there are the questionable offensive moves. Keydrick Vincent might have struggled pass blocking, but at least he could run block. Muhsin Muhammad might have been old, but he could at least catch the ball and teach the younger receivers. Also, I’m glad we decided against spending the pricey $850,000 to sign T.J. “Housh” who would be our main target right now instead of David Gettis.
Lastly, the coaches need to coach. I don’t know why we keep taking in coaches from the Browns but I hope someone realizes that it is a very bad idea.
In simple terms, we are in trouble and Ty Pennington needs to come in and do an extreme makeover. I love Carolina and remain black and blue through and through, but it would be nice to see NFL football come next week against the 49ers.