And away we go: Thanks for all your suggestions for the traditional "5 Things" in the comments on the previous blog post. I incorporated some of them into this.
1. Defensive pressure and tackling. The Panthers’ defense gave up three touchdowns to Ricky Williams, who is a good back, yes. But he’s also 32 years old and wasn’t good enough to start in Miami until Ronnie Brown got hurt. Yet Williams was nearly unstoppable and broke off a 46-yard run that was the play of the game with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter. Plus, Carolina never sacked Chad Henne.
2. Offensive playcalling. I know Carolina was behind most of the game, so sure, you’ve got to throw more. But DeAngelo Williams should have rushed for 180-200 yards in this game. Miami could not stop him. And he gets 13 carries?? DeAngelo went for 122 yards – 9.4 a pop – anyway. But it should have been more for the Panthers’ most consistent offensive weapon.
How about this sequence on Carolina’s first offensive series -- first-and-goal at the Miami 7? Incomplete pass. Incomplete pass. Sack. Field goal.
3. Jake Delhomme. Can’t leave the Panthers’ embattled QB out of this list. He threw 42 times, but never had a completion of 30 or more yards. Steve Smith had 87 yards and a TD but could have had a lot more had Delhomme just not sailed a couple of deep balls over head of an open No.89.
And while that final last-gasp drive had a possibility of greatness, throwing the alley-oop from the Miami 26 (especially at Dwayne Jarrett!) is not a very good idea. Throw a bullet like Brett Favre would, straight at Smith, and let him leap high and win or lose it for you.
4. The pass blocking. Wow, does Jordan Gross ever make a difference. Delhomme was sacked four times. Left tackle Travelle Wharton just couldn’t handle Joey Porter, and there were other leaky spots, too.
5. Special-teams coverage. Yes, Miami's Ted Ginn is a force on kickoffs, but a 42.5 return average is simply not acceptable. Jason Baker also hit a horrible punt that got run back 22 yards to set up Miami’s second touchdown.