Carolina Panthers' False Start Penalty Problems
The Carolina Panthers' most nagging issue so far this season has been getting whistled for false-start penalties.
They have been penalized 13 times in three games for jumping early, including 11 times in the past two weeks.
This past Sunday it was the crowd noise at the Metrodome, not to mention the presence of the Williams boys and Jared Allen on the other side of the line, that played a role in six false-start penalties.
According to Ryan Kalil, he’s to blame for most of the false starts, even though he wasn’t called for any penalties.
“Most of them were my fault,” Kalil said. “I know it looked like guys were jumping off-sides, but really I was having a hard time hearing (the snap count).”
So what Kalil is suggesting is that while it looked like tackles Jordan Gross and Jeff Otah and tight ends Dante Rosario and Jeff King were jumping early, most of the time they actually weren’t.
They were actually on time, right in tune with quarterback Jake Delhomme’s signal.
The snap, however, was late.
But since Gross, Otah and others can't move until the ball does they were getting flagged for false starts.
“It’s something I have to fix,” Kalil said.
“What you see when you watch the film is a lot of guys are jumping (on the snap count) and I’m actually snapping the ball late because I don’t hear the cadence. That is definitely one thing on my part that I have to fix. It’s something that played a big part in the game that puts us in a lot of bad situations.”
The only remedy during last Sunday’s game was for the Panthers to go on a “silent count.”
Silent counts are an offensive tackle’s worst nightmare.
Instead of waiting and listening for the quarterback’s voice, the tackles were forced to take their eyes off the defensive end and look inside to see the ball being snapped. Given that defensive linemen can shift up and down the line, that can put an offensive tackle in danger of getting beat for a sack.
“When a (defensive end) lines up wide it becomes a tough block for them because they have to get back fast,” Kalil said.
“They have to look back out and see where the guy is, whereas when they hear Jake’s voice they can sit there and watch him and study them. It’s tough to put those guys in that situation.”
As for Kalil’s struggles in his first full season as the starting center, Gross called it a matter of “growing pains.”
“He didn’t do a lot of shotgun at USC and he doesn’t have many starts (six) in the pros,” Gross said. “But we’ve learned it’s probably better to go silent count if he can’t hear.”
Gross also reiterated it’s not a matter of pointing the finger at any one player.
The offensive line, he stressed, is a unit, not a group of individuals. “It doesn’t matter who you blame it on—it’s still the same amount of penalties,” Gross said. “We’re all in it together. It’s like a sack. If I give up a sack or someone else does, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same outcome for us all.”
So what's the cure for false starts?
It starts with a home game as the Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Falcons aren't likely to stack eight men at the line the way the Bears did in the last game at Bank of America Stadium.
If they do they'll be in trouble, especially with Steve Smith back on the playing field.
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