The Carolina Panthers managed to shit their incredibly cold, incredibly frozen, East Rutherford bed tonight against the New York Football Giants.
If you like bone crunching, late-December football, this was your game. So how did Carolina shit the bed so disastrously?
They were without their primary run stopper up front, Maake Kemoeatu. That's a problem. However, Kemoeatu's presence would have made a marginal difference, if any, tonight.
When NFL Network replays this game, keep your eye on the Carolina defensive backs. I'm not certain whether or not this was coaching, or just plain ol' stupidity on behalf of Chris Gamble and company.
When Ward or Jacobs managed to break through to the second level, not only did Carolina's secondary attempt to arm tackle them—they tried to strip them. Every Bloody Time. There are certain times when a defensive back should tackle with their sideline arm ripping it across the ball, as their weight is still directed in the proper direction—theoretically forcing the runner down, even if the ball isn't stripped.
However, against runners like Ward and Jacobs, this just doesn't work. It was so widespread among the Carolina secondary, that I'd venture to guess they were told to attempt the strip.
Now, it was cold out and I'd imagine the ball would pop out easier but this got out of hand very quickly. I'd venture to guess that the Giants running backs tacked on anywhere between 5 and 10 yards per run, after those pathetic arm tackles.
The Panthers have the best team in the NFC, and it's just a matter of limiting the opposing offense. They do not need "game changing" fumbles or interceptions. They need to hold the opposing teams at bay, while their offense does its thing.
In other news, Beason actually avoided contact which means his injury may be worse than he let on. I'm sure he'll be better by playoff time.
If John Fox can fix this, I'd put my money on the Panthers come playoff time.