Aug 17, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) stands on the field during a timeout during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers defeated the Dolphins 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-US PRESSWIRE

The Mirror Universe: That Which is the Carolina Panthers 2012 Preseason Schedule

The Carolina Panthers looked like two completely different teams in their first two preseason games for good reason.

They struggled against the Houston Texans, one of the most talented squads in the NFL on both sides of the football. They dominated against the Miami Dolphins, who are themselves struggling to find their identity with rookie coaches, a rookie quarterback and right tackle, and new offensive and defensive systems.

Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin probably doesn’t truly care if he goes 0-4 in the preseason. Winning the game isn’t his goal. It’s to find and install the best 53 men he can for what he has in mind to do in the regular season. If they make great strides in their next two games, especially on offense, their defense has enough talent to keep them in a lot of games in the regular season. Then, things will be moving in the right direction when September rolls around at least.

Neither of the first two contests really gives an accurate assessment of the Carolina offense or defense. It’s too early and the teams they played are too different.

The week 3 game against the Jets could help provide a look at the progress the Panthers’ run defense has truly made. I expected Houston to be able to move the ball on them the first preseason game but not quite as easily as they did in-between the 20-yard lines. I didn’t expect the Panthers to shut down Miami’s offense so completely, but I attribute a lot of that to all the new stuff going on in south Florida. Miami had a rookie trying to block Charles Johnson, for goodness sakes! See paragraph two.

The Jets are having O-line woes of their own, despite the presence of All-Pro center Nick Mangold and athletic left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson. In fact, the Jets’ offense at this point in time is remarkably similar to that of the Dolphins with their problems…namely new offensive coaches and problems with the right side of the line in particular. They are having growing pains just as the Dolphins are. It’s life in the NFL.

The Jets? *Mirror here*

Miami New York Jets Head Coach Joe Philbin Rex Ryan probably doesn’t truly care if he goes 0-4 in the preseason. Winning the game isn’t his goal. It’s to find and install the best 53 men he can for what he has in mind to do in the regular season. If they make great strides in their next two games, especially on offense, their defense has enough talent to keep them in a lot of games in the regular season. Then, things will be moving in the right direction when September rolls around at least.

cue Twilight Zone music

When game four, the final warm-up to the regular season is finished, I think the Steelers will be the best gauge of progress in all aspects for the young Carolina team. Yes, they’re yet ANOTHER team with a young line with TWO starting rookies. But they’re very very good ones. Mike Adams from OSU will upgrade the LT position with some skill and I’m really looking forward to him matching up with Frank Alexander.

The Steelers also had top-rated guard David DeCastro fall in their lap as teams de-emphasized the o-line if their last name wasn’t Kalil, and DeCastro happens to fit a position of need quite nicely for the Steelers. They’ve looked better than Miami’s line so far, and their defense is legendary.

The Texans’ defense was top-rated in many categories last season. They certainly have a lot of similarities in style with the Steelers.

It’s odd how things work out…look at this:

Game 1: 2011 AFC playoff team with great defense but lost their playoff game in a close contest

Game 2: a team from the AFC East struggling to find an identity especially on offense

MIRROR

Game 3: a team from the AFC East struggling to find an identity especially on offense

Game 4: 2011 AFC playoff team with great defense but lost their playoff game in a close contest

I wish Rod Serling were alive for an audio clip…

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