Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Week 2 Recap: The Carolina Panthers Find Wisdom In Wayne's World


Many may remember the scene in Wayne’s World where they did a product review of the Suck-N-Cut (a spoof on the Flowbee, a device owned coincidentally by my father-in-law). Mike Myers’ character, Wayne, appropriately remarked that the device “certainly does suck.” After Sunday’s second peek at the Panthers, fans are reaching similar conclusions.

So, where does the blame fall for Sunday’s not so surprising heartbreaker? Unlike like last week’s fumble to a loss against Seattle, Panther fans are hard pressed to find a silver lining in last Sunday’s debacle. The wheels seemingly came off the bus at all levels.

Sep 15, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes under pressure by Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (94) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Carolina 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Under constant pressure, the offensive line had little answer for Mario Williams, who reminded Buffalo fans today why they paid him the big bucks. The Bills’ defensive line got after the quarterback when it counted. Although DeAngelo Williams exposed weaknesses in the Bills’ run defense, Buffalo consistently pressured Newton on passing downs, causing the Panthers to squander good field position and scoring opportunities. Surprisingly, it didn’t seem as the offensive line played terribly bad. The piecemeal group blocked well for the running backs and gave Newton sufficient time to get through his progressions. Newton simply held onto the ball far too long and Mike Shula seemed interested little in adjusting blocking schemes to account for Super Mario.

C.J. Spiller also frustrated what appeared to be a stout defense coming into Week 2. Certainly, Panther fans will cling to Luke Kuechly’s dominance  as a ray of future hope. He did however have a devastating pass interference penalty, which ultimately led to the Bills victory. Nevertheless, the defense did not make the stops when it counted. E.J.  Manuel dink and dunked the Panthers to death, and Spiller broke bad, averaging 6.4 yards per carry with a 46-yard run in the fourth quarter. Sunday’s Panthers run defense resembled that of last year’s more than Week 1′s.

Knowing when to let Cam run continues to elude the Panther coaching staff. Last year, former offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski struggled to find the correct balance between Cam the passer and Cam the rusher. Shula has signaled a more reserved approach towards Newton to this point. His conservative use of Cam in Week 1 sparked mild criticism of his vanilla play-calling against Seattle. Shula took this to heart (a lot of the urging of head coach Ron Rivera) and went downfield several times.  The effort seemed forced though. Newton took plenty of shots deep with occasional success, but the big play focus appeared more prayerful than potent. Shula avoided designed quarterback runs, preferring low probability long bombs. A well-timed quarterback draw will keep opponents honest. We are all wondering if he will have time to figure the ratio out.

Nicked and bruised, the secondary continued to be a major weakness for the Panthers. Inconsistent play at safety and a young group of corners, whose inexperience exacerbates their athletic limitations, has let opposing teams in the endzone at the most inopportune moments. Charles Godfrey has been late with help in two consecutive games. Luckily, Captain Munnerlyn made a nice play to break up a deep ball that he should have intercepted if he had been in position. In the end, a confused Panthers secondary allowed the Bills easily in the endzone for the win with six seconds left.

Sep 15, 2013; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera signals to the field during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Carolina 27-26. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Completing tackles and defensive stands remains problematic for the Panthers. Even Thomas Davis, always the big hitter, failed to wrap up Manuel for a loss that would have stunted the Bills comeback. Stevie Johnson, Robert Woods, and C.J. Spiller successfully extended plays beyond the first level of tacklers.

Unlike last week, Cam looked hesitant, unsure and simply lazy at times. He repeatedly telegraphed passes that led to one interception and several missed opportunities for more by the Bills. Newton looked as what his critics have been stating—raw, unpolished, and lacking the mental prowess to succeed at this level. While Cam showed some poise as he marched the Panthers downfield for a late first half score and connected on a deep touchdown pass to Ted Ginn, Jr. in the second half, his performance was marred by indecision and his continued refusal to get the ball out quickly.

Tinder for Rivera’s firing  builds amongst Panther fans. The more than unlucky 2-14 in games decided by six points or less is the most glaring characteristic of his head coaching career. The, at times, annoyingly laid back Rivera has squandered close games with his “not lose” instead of “must win” approach. Sunday’s fourth quarter debacle was reminiscent of the loss at home to Atlanta last year. Panther Twitter and sports blog chatter in the aftermath of the game  indicates little love for the current coaching staff by the fans.

As Garth cried out in Wayne’s World, “It’s sucking my will to live” while enduring the Suck-N-Cut. Sundays continue to suck Panther fans’ will to cheer.

 

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  • Mads_Dad215

    This is very clever. It certainly doesn’t suck.

  • ahrcshaw

    It is easy to set back on Monday and critique a game with “IF”, “had” , or what ever and blame someone for not doing something. “IF” a frog had wings it would not bust its ass every time it jumped. 99.9% of the NFL coaches would have tried to score, tried to use up time, then if all fails kick a field goal. 95% of them would have called it just like Rivera and Shula did. That Said: The Panther players were so gun shy of defending against the long pass play they forgot to cover the short out of bounds play in front of them, all they needed was on pass play where the receiver did not make it out of bounds. All the passes were short except for the one where Kuechly committed pass interferes and 95% of the time a flag would not have been thrown when the pass was as erratic as that one was.

    This team has good to excellent talent, but what it is missing is a killer in stink, or they are playing too cautious , they do not take advantage of their situation. Seems like they are waiting for someone else to do something. Too often this year early lack of play making advantages are lost, a drop pass here, a non block there, or more importantly a non play made on 3rd down that ends a good drive. One thing Jake DeLonne did was create excitement to move the team, this team has no one doing that. Olsen is good, but his 3 first half lackluster drops lost the momentum in the game against the Seahawks.. LaFells dropped pass in the Bills game, a DE on the Bills sacking Cam 4 ½ times is just bad play, add to that a defense that can not stop a rookie QB with 86 seconds left and no time outs is not a coach’s fault. One play from the defense would have made for a winning game.

    This team needs the players to realize every play is a Stop if not executed by each player on offense and a TD for the opposing team if a player miss one assignment. You can not coach that the game is on the line the first time the ball is touched. Go Panthers.

    • Mads_Dad215

      Any response that views Jake Delhomme as a positive element is suspect. He killed us more times than he delivered. Remember the Cardinals in the NFC Championship? Excitement brought 6 picks and a fumble.

      You are right that we need killer instinct. Smitty has excitement. I don’t think this is the end of the world. Less than desirable for sure. But I am happy that we move the ball downfield and can score. Didn’t happen with Delhommes’s last season, with Matt Moore, or with Clausen. We may not be winning, but we are not impotent at least.

      I’m with you with Go Panthers!

      • ahrcshaw

        Jake did very well until he injured his sholder, after that it was a matter of questionable accuracy that he never regained. My point however was that no one has had added more enthusiasm as he did to motivating his team mates. They seem to all be like zombies or at times ineffective robots.

    • Joey Riollano

      We were told by the coaching staff that they had learned from their mistakes, and they would be aggressive in their decision making. We have yet to see any of that. Where is the power run game we were promised? Where is the development of Cam Newton? Cam is in his 3rd year and he is making the same mistakes he was in year one. Why has he not progressed? Coaching is the only answer we have left. Some of this can be put onto the players, but the majority of the blame has to fall on the weak coaching staff.

      I’m not writing off the season, but I am looking forward to what happens when our season is over. If we don’t finish strong, as in 10-4 or 11-3 over the last 14 games then I think it is time to part ways with this staff.

  • Miranda Hairston Dunn

    Well said!

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