I’ve written a column off the Panthers’ 9-3 loss to the New York Jets that goes into some depth about how different sorts of people – i.e. optimists and pessimists – will take different things away from Carolina’s second straight preseason loss that Jets coach Rex Ryan likened to a “pillow fight" and Panthers' OT Jordan Gross said felt like a baseball game when you saw the final score.
Here are some of the things I’m taking away, though, from the Panthers’ second consecutive game without an offensive touchdown.
First, the 4 things I didn’t like the most:
1) The punt-return team. It was so bad it was comical. Armanti Edwards fumbled one ball away and misplayed another punt that turned into a turnover. Kenny Moore fumbled one away. Captain Munnerlyn fumbled one (but recovered it). All told – four fumbles, three turnovers just on the punt returns.
2) The passing game. The Panthers threw the ball 39 times and only gained 129 yards. Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen both missed some throws and both got blasted by the Jets’ frequent blitzes. After two games, Clausen has a 35.0 quarterback rating and Moore has a 34.9.
3) The blitz pickups. The Panthers have been blitzed constantly the first two weeks and seem to have little idea how to combat it. Carolina has now been sacked 11 times in two games and – without Steve Smith in there as a breakaway threat – can’t seem to make defenses pay for the risk-taking.
4) The long punt returns. Carolina has allowed one in each of its first two exhibition games.
It wasn’t all negative, though, by a long shot.
The two things I liked the most from Saturday night:
1) The pass rush. Where did all these defensive ends come from? The Panthers are getting pressure from everywhere – that makes 11 sacks in two games. Everette Brown had two in the first quarter Saturday night. “I was able to come out and set the tone,” Brown said, and he’s right.
2) The entire defense, especially the first-teamers. The Panthers gave up just seven first downs Saturday and 112 total yards (45 yards on 33 plays by the first-team defense).
If the special teams and offense didn’t self-destruct, those are “win by 14 points” kind of numbers.