The Carolina Panthers played a very good game yesterday. The coaches prepared the team well and they executed a sound game plan. The offense committed to the run and used a more traditional formation from which to do it. I thought they made excellent use of the 2 tight end formation, which I have been petitioning for since early in the season.
Defensively they were all over Cutler, pressuring, harassing, and hitting him every time he dropped back. I think we tackled well and for most of the game we even covered well. When looking at all of these things one would have expected us to have won. Yet again the Panthers show a preternatural penchant for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
I read a statistic: if you take away the loss to the Giants, the Panthers have lost 5 games by a total of 18 points. That really burns me up as a fan. So that makes one ask the question “where do we place the blame for these losses”? The blame has gone to different people after each game. It is said the the quarterback gets an unfair amount of the credit for wins and an unfair amount of the blame when the team loses. I would definitely say that is true. I think in the case of the Panthers however, the blame I believe should fall on the coaches.
Being a coach in the NFL is hard. The fans expect instant success when there is a coaching change. We are often impatient when it comes to allowing a transition. This was exacerbated by the sudden success the Panthers experienced last year. Now 6-10 is respectable when considering how the 2010 season went. We had a new staff and we were starting a rookie quarterback that didn’t have a real offseason due to the labor dispute, so for all intents and purposes I think 6-10 is successful. I, as well as many others, had high hopes for this year. To say hopes were high is really an understatement, I would say “expectations” were high.
The coaches on this team are good. I don’t understand why they have such a difficult making the in game adjustments.They come up with good game plans for starting the game but they fail at changing the game plan according to the game play. If the coordinators are having a tough time seeing what is going on when their respective unit is on the field, then it is the responsibility of the head coach to see it, step in, and make the adjustment. This is not happening. There is a lack of communication going on with the coaches during the game. They have all those high tech and high priced electronic communication devices, why aren’t they using them? For example, I can’t believe late in the game McDoormat didn’t see Marshall running the same route and Cutler was hitting him every time. I expected Rivera to step in and call for Norman to move up on Marshall and press him. It was obvious that the soft zone, wasn’t working. Also Marshall appeared to have hurt himself earlier in the drive, so he was running with a bad leg. I have to think Rivera was recalling the Falcons game where Roddy White got behind the coverage and beat our secondary late to get the team in field goal range. That must be why he didn’t bring him up.
I don’t claim to know everything about football but I know enough to see when my guys are getting beat and I would try something different to keep it from happening. Instead of running the soft zone I would have tried doubling Marshall, or going to man coverage. To allow him an 8 -10 yard cushion was opening the window for Cutler to hit Marshall. This, when combined with not attempting the field goal right before halftime and lining up in shotgun formation inside the 10 yard line, leaves too many points on the field.
This sort of thing isn’t restricted to just the Chicago game, this sort of thing has been going on all year and to a lesser degree last year as well. In the case of this season, when you think back to all the times we left points on the field, and this season there has been a few instances of doing just that, does it add up to 18 points? Could we be 5-1 with a different coach? I think Rivera has begun to lose this team. They are tired of losing, and I can’t blame them. Just listen to the post game comments by some Panther players. The talent on this team is good enough to be at the top of this division as opposed to the bottom. The reason we are 1-5 is coaching. Head coach and coordinators, all have had a hand in this season’s demise. I can only hope the team brings in an experienced guy as the replacement for Rivera. I do think Rivera will become a good head coach, it just won’t be with the Carolina Panthers.
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