“There’s nothing more relevant in life and football than the score at halftime. We just got to keep playing. We just got to keep fighting and don’t really worry about the scoreboard and just try to win the next down.”
-Panthers’ OC Ben McAdoo after the season-opening loss to the Browns
It’s easy to look at the Panthers’ Week One loss to the Cleveland Browns under a macroscopic lens: ‘They lost the game in the first half. The spark at the end was encouraging, but not quite enough to win.’
It’s convenient to discuss results in a bigger picture view, while ignoring the microscopic…the pixels that make it up. McAdoo is hoping the microscopic approach of ‘one down at a time’ will result in a win.
Here are three keys to Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
Flip The Script
Carolina’s offense was hesitant, overly cautious and conservative against Cleveland. Granted, they are still working out the kinks of their new offense and it was never going to be perfect, however, over committing to a series of scripted plays makes no sense. For example, instead of throwing deep for Robbie Anderson or DJ Moore on third and long, the Panthers’ offense chose a screen pass and nothing to show for it, but a failed third down conversion early in the first quarter. Carolina’s offense produced only six total yards in the first quarter and didn’t gain traction until turning to Christian McCaffrey. With that said, McAdoo and the Panthers’ offense should focus more on adjusting to the match up as opposed to running 15 scripted plays -regardless.
Presence Of Rush Defense
The Panthers defense gave up 217 rushing yards against Cleveland. The cause of this has been attributed to poor fundamentals in terms of missed assignments and tackles. There were pockets in the game that they didn’t even attempt a blitz in third and short situations. Like Chubb, Saquon Barkley is a dynamic runner who can move the chains. In order to contain Barkley, the Panthers must deploy a consistent rush defense.
Play With Disclipine
Like I said in Sunday’s recap, the penality against Brian Burns in the fourth quarter ruined the comeback . However, it doesn’t excuse the many legitimate penalities that the Panthers’ defense committed. Carolina gave up 96 yards worth of penalities. Most of those calls were attributed to a lack of fundamentals. Jaycee Horn, et al racked up holding penalities. Holding is indicative of fundamental breakdowns, which is also a byproduct of poor tackling. The Panthers can’t afford to allot extra yardage to a run-dominant Giants team.