Last night the Carolina Panthers played the Miami Dolphins at SunLife Stadium in Miami, FL. What many thought would be a chance for the illustrious Cam Newton to finally shine and win the starting quarterback position, looked more like a team of High School kids playing against USC. Now I’m not dogging the Panthers, but there were times that the team’s inexperience shown through. Not to mention that having Jon Beason and Chris Gamble on the sidelines led to rookie mistakes on the defense. Though the Panthers lost the game, the team learned quite a few things last night.1) Cam Newton may have lost the starting job to Jimmy Clausen last night. What this means is that the starting job was Cam’s to lose, and he showed me that he is not ready to carry a team. Cam has all the arm strength in the world, but he looked nervous last night. The minute he had to scramble he threw away the idea of completing a pass and just went for the run, most of the time too short to convert the 1st down. Clausen led the team on two scoring drives and while they weren’t enough to put the Panthers ahead, he showed poise in the pocket. I believe that Clausen should start at least half of the regular season to give Newton time to fully develop.
2) The defense looked lost without Beason and Gamble on the field. There were times last night when Henne completed passes to wide open receivers, and Reggie Bush would make big plays. The defense was lax in there coverage all night. They were letting the receivers beat them off the line, thus allowing Henne to throw for almost 200 yards. Also, the run defense was almost non-existent. Reggie Bush, an old NFC South player, ran all over the Panthers last night. He made a few big plays that should have been stopped. The Panthers’ D left big holes open all night. Bush has never been an “in between the tackles” runner; yet last night he did just that against the Panthers. Hopefully the D will step up with Gamble and Beason returning soon, but last night proved we need more depth in the Secondary. If this issue isn’t addressed, the Panthers will have trouble winning games all season.3) It looks as though the Panthers’ QB’s love the tight ends. Last night Newton and Clausen completed 7 passes for 69 yards to their tight ends. That is about half the passes completed and a little over half of the total passing yards. We knew that Chudzinski was going to bring in a tight end happy offense, but we didn’t expect to see it to this level. The acquisition of both Shockey and Olsen make the Panthers’ passing game a viable threat. The tight ends we have are great route runners and been shaking coverage in both preseason games. Look for Carolina to continue this trend, as they don’t have very many WR’s ready to step up the way Steve Smith will. Ultimately, if you are sitting in a fantasy draft and Greg Olsen is sitting undrafted in your last round, I would take him. He is going to have tremendous upside no matter who the Panthers start at QB.
Pay attention to CatCrave this week, as Coach Rivera announces his pick for starting QB. We will give you breaking news as soon as we can.