Panthers vs. Titans: 5 Things We Learned from Carolina's 30-3 Loss
The offense did not look in sync from the start, and Tennessee was able to pick their way through Carolina's defense and open up an insurmountable lead in the second half.
Injuries and lack of discipline seem to have caught up to the Panthers, who seemed disinterested at times, and the Titans took advantage for an easy win.
The Panthers' offensive line had bounced back in recent weeks following a questionable start to the season, but they were dominated by a Titans defensive line that is nothing special.
Newton needed a few extra seconds at times, which was responsible for pressure, but the main blame falls on the offensive line. There was an apparent lack of communication that caused blown assignments and big losses in key situations early on.
Jeff Otah's replacement, Byron Bell, continued to prove that he's not the long-term answer at right tackle; he committed multiple penalties and didn't perform like you'd expect an NFL starter to.
Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen were the main culprits here. Stewart dropped a well set up screen pass on the first drive that would have assuredly developed into a first down and possibly a positive drive to start off the game.
Greg Olsen also dropped a beautiful throw that would have put Carolina in a great position to score. He also fumbled away a scoring opportunity in the first quarter.
As Carolina was trying to get back in the game on a fourth quarter drive, Legedu Naanee and Steve Smith dropped consecutive passes which thwarted any chance at putting points on the board. Naanee's dropped pass turned into an interception for Tennessee.
Porous Rush Defense
This week was the same story for Carolina's defense, as a good first-half effort against the run turned into a second-half debacle.
Chris Johnson is a dangerous back, but he has been dormant to this point in the season. No running lanes opened in the first half, but the Panthers' lack of depth due to an array of injuries allowed Johnson to break off a few long runs late in the game.
Charles Godfrey was a lone bright spot on the defense. He flew around the field and a play he made on a Matt Hasselbeck bootleg was particularly impressive, as he prevented a touchdown by making a mad dash to the Tennessee quarterback, who looked to have an easy stroll to the end zone.
Some may suggest this belongs in the last slide, but tackling was a sore spot in the secondary as well. Early in the game, Damian Williams caught a pass short of the first down marker, but a sad effort by Darius Butler and terrible angle by Sherrod Martin turned a potential third down stop into a 43-yard score.
On special teams, a bad pursuit and inability to take on blocks and turn Marc Mariani into the heart of the punt coverage turned into a return for a touchdown in the first quarter; a play that put the Panthers behind from the get-go.
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
Carolina continues to commit more penalties than any other team in the NFC. They played undisciplined, and personal fouls turned fourth downs for Tennessee into first downs.
Desperate holding penalties and mental mistakes prevented the offense from getting into any groove and it showed up in the box score, as the Panthers totaled less than 300 yards while committing 12 penalties that totaled 99 yards.