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‘Tis the Season of Overreaction, and other Postgame Ramblings

“Put in Clausen.  Sign Antonio Bryant.  Fire Fox.  Trade a running-back.”

Boy, some fans are in mid-season form, already.

After the Panthers’ 15-7 win(?) Saturday night against the Tennessee Titans, there is still a very unsettling feeling in the queen city.  Fans are not satisfied, nor should they be, with the paltry performance by the Panthers’ offense so far in the preseason.

But I beg you, step away from the ledge and/or take off your Jimmy Clausen jerseys.  I plead to you, let us remember one very important fact…this is the preseason, folks.

Take a deep breath, and ask yourself three questions:

  • Has Matt Moore ever looked like an NFL caliber quarterback in any of his previous three preseasons?
  • Has the Panthers’ offense ever set the world on fire in the preseason under John Fox?
  • Has the defense ever looked so determined; so hungry?

No, no and no.  Which is also what I say to those of us who have already jumped off the Matt Moore bandwagon.  Perhaps it is the eye-popping green grass in Clausenville.  Maybe it is the shortening of the average attention span.  Matt Moore gives the Carolina Panthers the best chance to win, period.

There is one thing that is being overlooked when it comes to the offenses’ struggles, and that is ‘play-calling.’

During OTAs and throughout most of training camp, the offense focused almost exclusivly on the passing game.  This was (and still appears to be) the one area that needed immediate improvement, according to Fox.  While that improvement remains to be seen, it must be noted that during the regular season, the play-calling will be different.

In three preseason games, the offense has attempted to pass 60% of the time.  During the regular season, expect this to be the other way around.  John Fox and Jeff Davidson know that if they want to win games, they will need to run the ball 60% of the time.  Being able to run the ball at such a clip means the Panthers are avoiding large deficits, and even taking leads into the second half.

We can equate the offenses’ preseason struggles to playing ping-pong left handed.  Their working on a weakness, but at the same time they are assuming their strength will remain just as effective without much practice.

As for the game Saturday night:

First let us cover the bright spots.  Trent Guy looked very sharp handling punt return duties.  Mike Goodson finally flashed the big play potential the Panthers took a gamble on in the fourth round last offseason.  Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards both made nice grabs.  And then there is the defense…

What can we say?  They were tremendous.  The pass rush harassed the Titans quarterbacks all night long.  The linebackers were sifting through the trash and stopping run plays before they got started.  The secondary intercepted two passes (both by cornerback Brian Witherspoon).  Ron Meeks uncharacteristically blitzed the Titans, as two players from the secondary recorded sacks.  Just as we cannot put too much stock into the offensive woes, this defensive emergence must be treated much the same.

The negatives are pretty apparent.  The offense hasn’t scored a touchdown in the preseason.  While the Panthers scored 15 points, there was a special teams touchdown and three field goals.  The offense, to their credit, did sustain several long drives to get in position for those field goals.  The running game was all but shut down, gaining only 59 yards on 23 attempts.

All in all, it was good to see the Panthers win a game in the preseason, something they failed to accomplish last season before starting the regular season 0-3.

If the defense continues to be a dominant force, and they carry their momentum into the regular season, they will win if the offense is just an average unit.  Assuming the Panthers can come out about even in the battle for field position, things are looking good.

And remember, when the Panthers take the field in the swamps of New Jersey week one, there will be a certain number 89 in the lineup.  There’s your much sought-after passing game right there, gang.

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  • Easy A

    So whose really upset Evan ? I mean I’m sure you hear way more input from fans than I do… I just wanted to put my two cents in. We havent had Jstew or Smitty on offense. Every team we have played has focused in on shutting DeAngelo down cause hes the only proven factor in the preseason lineup… I thought Matt played decent this weekend and with the fact that 2/3 of our offensive weapons were not suited up we did just fine…

    • Easy A

      and the defense looks great !!! I always heard from all my coaches that offense wins games and defense wins championships !!! We are undefeated right now and any fan that really wants to criticize what they have seen so far doesnt understand the concept of preseason

    • Eric Quackenbush

      I have to say that even by now — three weeks into preseason — there should be some kind of chemistry between the receivers and the starting quarterback. A passer rating that’s a little over 50% in a game where the quarterback played for three quarters, is nothing to be impressed with, and the “no Smitty” excuse is as tired as I am after soccer practice. There MUST be chemistry being developed between quarterback and receivers.

      Moore’s play was okay, but I can’t say I was comforted with his completion of just over 50% of his passes. If you were, fine. But there’s a ton of room for improvement.

      The running game is not really a concern per se, because emphasis has been more on the passing game than the running game.

      In the end, come regular season, the Panthers will probably go back to their bread-and-butter running game, ask Moore to hand the ball off, and connect to receivers as more of a formality.

  • Easy A

    ” In the end, come regular season, the Panthers will probably go back to their bread-and-butter running game, ask Moore to hand the ball off, and connect to receivers as more of a formality. ”
    Exactly what I’m saying do I like the Panthers style of football ? Its ok to be prehistoric but it has worked before… All I’m saying is 08 we were NFC South champs doing just that.

    • Easy A

      And if thats what we do thats fine as long as it works. I just think sometimes you guys are a lil too negative… its preseason… lets not jump on the we suck band wagon yet!!!!

  • Shannon Owens

    Alright Eric.
    1. Matt Moore has never been Brett Favre in preseason because he has played less than Jimmy Clausen is getting to. Now he has the majority playing time and still isn’t impressing me. I’m not saying Clausen is the answer or that he is better because I have not been able to see as much of him as I’d like BUT Moore has never impressed me beyond an incredible doubt that he deserves 1st string. Out of what we have left, sure.. he’s the most “experienced” if you want to call it that.. but he sure isn’t playing like it making stupid mistakes, hesitating too long, and throwing horrible passes. Half of his throws almost got picked off last game.

    2. Yes, the Panthers HAVE in fact “set the world on fire” in preseason going 4-0 a few years ago. We may call different plays in regular season, but if Moore can’t make a completion.. that worries me. Oh, we don’t have Smith or JStew. Idc. Neither did Jake for an entire season, but ya know what? He sucked up and pulled out some wins. You can’t depend on them to win games because they WILL get hurt whether for a game or the season.

    Our defense is amazing and I couldn’t me more proud. I don’t think I’ve seen them look so good since the year we went to the Super Bowl.. but when your offense is lagging behind.. it’s going to get old for them real quick.

    I think better decisions just need to be made and putting Armanti Edwards back out there probably isn’t a wise one.

    I know we are a run team, but we have Steve Smith and they’re looking for a #2 (cough Kenny Moore) so we need an accurate passer. If Matt steps up, more power to him and great if we get wins. I’m just not seeing it.

  • Shannon Owens

    By the way, I miss Jake.. check out HIS stats..

    • John

      I am not a Jake hater I like the guy but he was done here. And I don’t think he is really going to continue to outplay Peyton and several of the other elite QBs when the real playing starts.

      As for Moore I think it’s very unfair to chide him when penalties, drops, turnovers have been the real issue. Not much of which was on him. Further this offense has basically been a 3 week wide receiver try out and so the play calling isn’t anything like what it will be. They have forced things to see people play the position.

      Lastly I think it’s real easy to come down on the offense and poo-poo missing starters. But I ask how many offenses would look good with 3k yards and 25 TDs sitting on the bench? Because remember Williams has played sparingly at best so he may as well have sat.

      If we play poorly in game one I’ll be perfectly happy to come down on the culprits. Right now I think it’s kind of hard to justify.

    • Eric Quackenbush

      Check his stats with Carolina from last preseason too, and they were pretty good…Just sayin’, when wins and losses don’t count for anything, stat-padding comes to mind.

  • Mark

    It wasn’t too long ago that the Panthers could not lose in the preseason,going undefeated in consecutive years. Did that turn into victories during the regular season? Most times,no. So all of you guys and gals that are already calling for heads to roll should untwist your boxers/briefs,the Cats will play their old school football when they face the Giants,pound the rock,play lights out defense and pin em deep on special teams. We have never been a passing team,so why all the fuss over Moore not morphing into Peyton Manning?

  • John

    Since Jake came up here I wanted to say I think it’s absolutely deplorable that on ESPN alleged Panther fans are voting him most hated player from Charlotte. Such idiots. The guy definitely was not in a good place the last 18 months he was here but he always carried himself like a pro, was a leader of this club and gave us a lot to cheer for over the years. Jake doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment, those folks should be ashamed.

    • Easy A

      Ma, ma, mamma said if you c,c,cant say nothing nice d,d,dont say nothing at all… needless to say I have nothing to say about Delhomme

  • Paul

    Dont count out Clausen just yet.You know damn well why he was picked.Earlier,if they could arrange a trade.They picked him because of his experience in the system and his accuracy.Oh,and because they thought they needed a QB. So,guess again.Last week,it was Cantwell that couldn’t be beat.Moore will be out,and Clausen will be in.Just a matter of time.I personally dont think long.Who ever it is,there will be a learning curve for them.Who do you think they will pick?

    • John

      Barring major injury or serious meltdown,, leaving us with nothing else to lose Clausen will not start this season. He may challenge next year and nothing wrong with that but he isn’t ready yet to start.