Aug 17, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) shares candy with people on the sidelines during the second half against the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium.The Panthers defeated the Dolphins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

Newton, Panthers Awaken from Slumber, Easily Handle Dolphins

Don’t be fooled by last night’s 23-17 close score. Although the Dolphins had a chance to win the game at the end, Dolphin QB Pat Devlin couldn’t finish up the 2-minute drill and put a TD on the board.

The real news came with the starters in the first half. Carolina pulled their starters about midway through the second quarter after Panthers QB Cam Newton led three scoring drives for 17 points, missing on only 3 pass attempts during his time on the field. The Panthers went from looking rusty and lethargic against the Texans to midseason form against the Dolphins – all in the space of a week. The Panthers look like they are shaping up well overall.

It’s another story for the Dolphins, and perhaps a rude awakening that they are going to go through some pains no matter who starts at QB for them.

Rookie QB Ryan Tannehill struggled with the first team but led them on their only TD drive of the night, a nice 15-play drive. Tannehill was 11/23 for 100 yards while Matt Moore was 5/15 for 57 yards. Pat Devlin, the practice squad QB for the past few years, finished 13/20 for 118 yards and a TD and an INT.

Carolina’s pass rush actually showed up last night, but I watched the entire game. I didn’t see so much “great play” by Carolina…I saw rookie RT Jonathan Stewart struggling with pretty much everything. In the second quarter, he gave up sacks on consecutive plays while a reserve LT whose name I didn’t catch gave up a sack on the other side 2 plays later.

The Dolphins also couldn’t get their running game going at all. Again, good news for Panthers fans, but I think it was more due to the ongoing offensive installation with Philbin’s new system than anything the Panthers did that was so great. It did appear that DT Ron Edwards is indeed a difference maker with several good, savvy plays last night.

With no running game and defenders in your face due to missed blocks or assignments, it would be difficult for any coach to evaluate the QB situation in Miami. Tannehill does have the better arm, more mobility, and overall is a much better athlete than Matt Moore. I’d rate their performances equally bad, with Tannehill’s being slightly less bad since Moore had a little more time in the pocket playing with his second team, facing Carolina’s second-team defense.

Coach Philbin has to be pulling out the several hairs on his head that he has left. Last night did nothing to help his decision as to his starter for opening day. I still think it’s Tannehill, but there are 2 games left.

The Panthers jumped out to a 17-0 lead when the first teams faced off and clearly demonstrated that the Panthers have an identity while the Dolphins are still searching for theirs, but that’s not unusual. Last season, the Panthers were in roughly the same spot as Miami is this year and it showed. Carolina knew what they were doing while Miami looked confused and just never got in synch.

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Tags: Carolina Panthers Joe Philbin Matt Moore Miami Dolphins Pat Devlin Ryan Tannehill

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