Monday, October 1, 2012

2 coaching mistakes by Rivera cost Panthers

The Panthers had a number of high-profile mistakes on the field Sunday in their 30-28 loss to Atlanta -- a loss that I believe will scar this team for the rest of the season, as I wrote in this column. (After listening to Ron Rivera on Monday, too, I am pretty convinced that Haruki Nakamura will be benched for Sunday's game vs. Seattle.)

But there were also two big mistakes made by head coach Rivera and his coaching staff in my opinion.

The most important was at the end of the game when Rivera didn't go for it on fourth and 1 at the Atlanta 45, instead punting to Atlanta and giving the Falcons one more chance to win. He said after the game he might have gone for it on fourth-and-inches (the ball was originally marked closer to the first-down line after a Cam Newton fumble that the Panthers recovered) but never seriously considered it on fourth and one.

Why? "Because if you don't get it right there, they only have to go 30 yards to try a field goal and that's why we decided to punt," Rivera said. The punt then was downed at the Atlanta 1, where the Falcons began with 59 seconds left and no timeouts.

Rivera's players stood behind him for that call. (ESPN's stats department did not, though, saying Panthers actually went against the percentages there based on this excellent blog item from Pat Yasinskas). But even as it was happening the pressbox I was shaking my head. Why not win or lose the game with your strength (offense) instead of counting on your weakness (defense) to win it for you?

As I wrote in today's column:

Rivera’s call was understandable in a vacuum. A great Panthers punt meant the Falcons took over at their 1, with just 59 seconds left and no timeouts.

But the coach has also seen the Panthers defense for two years. He knows its weakness against the deep ball (Haruki Nakamura had already given up a 49-yard touchdown earlier) and the big play (Carolina had also allowed a short dump pass to Michael Turner to go for a 60-yard TD).

And Rivera knows how good Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan is. Yet the coach played the same percentages John Fox and every other conservative NFL coach undoubtedly would have in the same situation. Instead of trying to seal the game by running the ball for a single yard – and the Panthers already had 199 rushing yards – Rivera punted.

It was, simply, a bad call – a “play not to lose” sort of call.

The other call was at the end of the first half, when the Panthers totally mismanaged the clock in a two-minute drill.

Down 17-14, the Panthers took over at their 20 with 1:49 left and all three timeouts. What followed was a succession of short passes and runs – but no timeout taken until there were only 35 seconds left and Carolina faced second-and-2 from its 40.

By then it was too late, and the Panthers’ hurry-up offense never even crossed midfield (and the Panthers never used one of their timeouts). If Carolina had gotten a field goal there, it might have changed things.

Now it's also true that the coaching staff had the Panthers extremely well prepared as a whole compared to 10 days ago -- they give Atlanta everything. The play-calling was creative. The Panthers figured out a way to pressure Ryan (7 sacks). But coaches are judged by wins and losses, as they all know. And the bottom line is that Rivera is now 7-13 in his first 20 games as the Panthers' head man.

52 comments:

Panthers Fan said...

I totally agree with everything that you wrote. I would love to see Coach Rivera show more emotion on the sideline. He walks around with no look of urgency whatsoever.

Unknown said...

Second that, although he was a little better this game but against the Giants he was not even there. Come on Rivera lets ralley the troops!

Anonymous said...

When you have a fortune, a literal fortune, wrapped up in two running backs, and you have the best running quarterback in the league, you go for it.

Anonymous said...

@Panthers fan - There are 20+ NFL coaches that coach with no emotion, mainly because they have to think several plays ahead, like a chess player. I don't need to see a Rex Ryan on the side line as the Panthers coach.
@Scott - you are 100% wrong on this article. Going for it on 4th and a long yard, you give Atlanta a short field to kick FG. This game was lost with Cam's fumble with 1 min on the clock. He had the first down, but like he does all the time, he carries the ball like a loaf a bread away from his body. Panthers were very lucky to get the fumble back, and then be able to punt the ball to the 1 yard line.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Panthers for a great game and one that we should have lost. I have to agree that this loss is on the coaching staff even though you had a great game plan. The Falcons will exact punishment on the Panthers next time we meet in the Queen City. Good teams win the games they are supposed to and although the Falcons were flat they were supposed to win against an inferior team and coaching staff. We are who we thught we were.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your claim about the 4 and 1 call. Why go for it? You just had 3rd and 2 and couldn't convert. Then Nortman and special teams executed a beautiful punt.
What are the chances of pinning someone on the 1. Your odds still look great.

Now the coaching mistakes are the following:
1. 3rd and 2 it was quite obvious that Newton was going to run. Very obvious indeed. Great, creative teams do a play action and hit their tight end or receiver in the flat. Not a predictable run.
2. THE BIGGEST MISTAKE: No blitz when they were on the 1. Great idea... give Ryan all the time he needs back there.There should have been two blitzers on that play
3. Nakamura not deep enough. The DC should have two safeties out back and clearly stated NOBODY GETS BEHIND YOU. Play the ball forwards and not backwards. Especially in light of Roddy White's 1st touchdown.
That 4th and 1 call is 50/50 and I think punting was the right thing to do. We still don't have a great consistent offense. I certainly don't trust it.

Anonymous said...

If the Panthers would have "gone for it" on 4th and 1 and failed, you and every other media type would have said it is the worst call ever. So, not fair to rip Rivera for this one. A great kick followed, then a somewhat lucky pass reception caused the loss.

It's easy to say every failed play is a bad call, and every successful one is a good call, but not always true. Don't criticize the coach for something most coaches would have done.

Anonymous said...

I think the time management at the end of the first half was done well. There are two goals - score (of course) and do not give your opponent a chance to score. You must strike a balance. Saving the timeouts until the last thirty seconds or so makes sense.

I believe the Panthers walked off the field at halftime facing fourth and long, so using those timeouts would have only given the Falcons a chance to strike back.

Fan1 said...

Couldn't agree with Panther Fan more. That is exactly what I've noticed since his first game. No emotion on the sideline. To be fair, all i see are the t.v. shots but he doesn't look confident at all. Bottom line, this team hasn't learned how to win under his leadership. BTW..Cam, enough already with the TD dances. You look like a fool when your record stinks.

John said...

Very well put.

Let's even take the punt to the one out of the equation because that took a nearly super-human play to down it and there is no way that Rivera could've counted on that when he made his decision not to go for it.

THIS is WHY you drafted Newton! These losses seem to keep coming because the coaching staff seems to forget what made Newton so attractive in the draft. He's big, he's strong, and he can pound the ball. Fourth and one, with the game on the line is when you take advantage of that!

Willy Loman said...

Scott, you continue to show why you are an average sports writer at a below average paper.....and why you will never even be considered to give advice to a pop warner football coach. Every single thing Rivera did to win yesterday was correct, ESPECIALLY punting it to the one yard line with 40 seconds left. There are too many reasons to list why your logic is simply "monday morning quarterbacking," and nothing less. The game was lost on one play. Nakamura let someone get behind him. Period. If you asked any coach in the NFL if they would rather go for it on 4th and one and a half, or have the 3-0 Falcons pinned in their own territory with 40 seconds left......each one would punt it. Stop trying to coach and just worry about why there are 9 employees left at the Observer.

imronburgundy said...

This came down to poor execution by the secondary. Coach made the correct call to punt it. Who could have asked for better field position after that? It come down to the fact that if we would have gone for it and didn't make the first down, everyone would be saying what idiots we are for not punting. Our secondary needs help badly.

Anonymous said...

Most NFL Head Coaches and coaches in general will admit that more games are lost than won. Meaning your mistakes and decision-making lose more games than they win. Had they gone for it on 4th down under those circumstances they'd be gambling the whole game on 1 play. Need I remind the author that the previous play resulted in a fumble and 1 yd gain. So how convinced are we that we could have gotten that 1 yd on 4th down. And may I also remind the author of 4th and 1 on the 2 or 3yd line against New Orleans.....Rivera made the correct decision...

Anonymous said...


Totally disagree with you Scott. It was correct call to punt ball to one yard line. The only screwup was on the safety Nakamura. Anybody that has played any football ever before could see that. I'm assuming you've never played footballScott.

Anonymous said...

I said the same at the time. It was playing to try to avoid losing, instead of trying to win. We were at their house, we should try for the win. Cam isn't getting better, he is NOT "Superman" & should stop with that "me" attitude, & you CANNOT allow a 6o yard completion from the opponents one yard line. The Panthers season, again, is over before the season gets into real swing. They are making me an UN-fan. Tired of them every year doing the same thing. I'm going to either "pull" against them, pick another team for a "fav", or watch a "Lifetime" movie instead of watching them. Rivera cannot coach..he continues to prove that.

Unknown said...

You got it Scott. Coach needed to go for it on that play. It also looked like Fox was calling plays when we kept trying to run the ball up the middle....rarely worked but we kept doing it. Defense had some big plays but they left a lot of wide open gaps still...more work needs to be done. I think people are rushing to judgement calling for Rivera to be fired and Cam to be benched but we have a lot still to get done to be contender. This entire team needs to show more determination to make plays and stop the competition.

Anonymous said...

Scott, you are totally wrong on this one and Rivera is totally right. Punting the ball to the one yard line was corret. Rivera has played football and understands. Scott you look like you never have played. The colossal screwup was by Nakamura. That is the guy who cost Panthers the game.

Anonymous said...

That was the right call Rivera made. Had he gone for it and we got stopped in the backfield b/c our OL, everybody would have been writing that he should have punted the ball and let our defense close things out since they were sacking and disrupting Ryan. The problem is that our offensive line isn't all that good at overpower their opponent this year. We need monsters.

Anonymous said...

Understand the playcall by Rivera and hindsight is always 20/20. If it was inches, Rivera better have gone for it on 4th. But a full 4th and 1 and you miss it, then it's the ballgame. If your D can't stop a offense pinned at the 1, it's is going to be a long season. Better get the rookie Norman some help along with the safety Haruki if you want to have a chance at getting wins, let alone the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

1. Scott, Right call on the punt. Wrong not to blitz when you have them pinned on the 1. We had pressured him all day.

2. Charlotte, these guys are grown ups, not high school. You aint gonna scare em. If you want to see more emotion watch The View (mornings on ABC)!!!

Anonymous said...

To 9:26 -

Playoffs! Playoffs! Did you say playoffs! We just want to win a game.

Anonymous said...

why are we continuing to try zone read when its getting stuffed. please take that play out of the playbook its annoying to see chud keep calling it and causing 3rd and longs. The defense sucks. john fox had a lot of the same players and a defense ranked top 5 . Even in the jimmy loss-son era when the defense spent 59 min a game on the field they held teams to less points then now. Chud needs to quir being fancy when this team cant even execute the basics. and sean mcdormett needs to exit. hes got this defense like phillys defense when they fired him.

Jesse Collin said...

Fowler nailed this one. You pride yourself on being a "running team" and paid your backfield nearly $90 million this offseason, and you're too scared to go for it on 4th and 1 with the game on the line?!

Just another sign that Rivera is not an elite NFL coach. He's got to grow a set of kahunas and take a chance. That was a scared move by Ron, and it cost us.

Anonymous said...

They don't make a 1st down and your column would read the same. Coaching mistakes cost the Panthers. The two Matts (Ryan and Bryant) are too hot right now to give them the ball with that much field position. No times outs and you pin Atlanta on the 1. That was the better call. The key on coaching, the Panthers bounce back well after a horrible game and now have to bounce back after a heartbreaking loss. That will tell the tale on coaching. Really bad column, and I am in Atlanta. You sound like some of the jerks that wrote here in the 70s about Leeman Bennett. I bet Panters fan wish you would move to Columbia and do your reporting there. It would be interesting to see how that would work out.

Anonymous said...

The thing is you say he played the percentages. He didn't though. If you read Pat Yasinkas article today, the Panthers chances of winning decreased significantly with the punt. Playing the percentages would have actually been going for it

Randy said...

I agree that you try for the first down on that 4th & one. It takes aggressive play to beat a better team. It was clear that Atlanta was expecting to be drawn offside and were firmly planted. Why not take advantage of that and run a quick QB sneak on a no count ? catch the defense off guard.

And as a fan, I'm OK with losing when you are trying to win. Losing when you are trying not to loose sucks. That's why so many fans were lost during the Fox era.

Paul McDonald said...

You are all idiots who do not understand football. When you punt, you give the team the ball every time. By going for it, the Panthers had an excellent chance of keeping the ball. The difference would have been about 30-40 yards of field position (you don't know the ball will get downed at the 1 before the play). 30-40 yards of field position are meaningless in today's NFL. You win with possession, not field position. After watching this team make the same mistakes over and over, it is obvious neither Rivera nor Cam can come through in the clutch.

Paul McDonald said...

And if the Panthers went for it and didn't get it, it's still the right call. Challenge your top players to make a play to win the game. Then challenge your defense to win the game. It's the mindset. To say you're too scared to try to get 1 yard when you need it to win sends the wrong message to the team. Even if they didn't convert, the defense could still have stopped them. But, Rivera took that option away, and put it all on his putrid defense. And where was the coach to keep them in the game, to tell Nakamura "Stay back at the 50"? Hardy said he thought the game was over when the ball was on the one. The Panthers stopped playing, but the Falcons went out and won the game. Rivera has proven to be a shoddy coach.

Anonymous said...

If you watched him in the Giants game and the Falcons game it is quite obvious that he has no business being on the field. He is the weakest link on defence. Too tenative. Not athletic enough to play his position. He should not be starting.


Look at the Falcons scoring plays and I will show you a player that ran out of position on the Turner TD and missed a tackle. On the Roddy White's first TD Nakamura was turned around the wrong way. On White's second TD he got there late in support. On the long throw to White from the 1, there is no way that Nakamura should have been beat on that throw.

He is too timid. Too small. Reluctant to hit and cannot support the run.

I am really surprised that he starting. He is hurting the Panthers in a big way.

Anonymous said...

The punt was wrong. No way do you think that it's downed ANYWHERE past the 10 with it most likely being a touchback and coming out at the 20. That gives a QB who has thrown for over 300 yards before then 25-35 more yards. Big deal. He would have beaten us no matter what if he had the ball but wouldn't have if we had picked up the first down but we didn't even try. Worthless coaching.

Anonymous said...

Cam Newton : I LOVE the A-Town stomp & celebration. Nevermind these STUCK UP fans here. KEEP CELEBRATING bruh. Ur in the NFL, they're not!!

Anonymous said...

There were more then 2 coaching mistakes.. I have seen better tackles in HS and college the the Panthers make each week. Most of the Panthers tackle high and try to ride down the runner.I was a small defensive player in HS and college. I learned early, that you keep your head up and hit below the waist. Nobody can run very far if you hold his legs or just one leg. Most open field tackles are made that way.

Anonymous said...

How about stopping Turner from going 16 yards every time he touches the ball? I don't know why the Falcons didn't just run him every play, so the D-line could miss him and the linebackers and secondary could just pinball off of him.

Anonymous said...

The mistakes and lack of NFL football intensity lost this game. Last time I checked, a running back can't continue to chew up yards if you break his knees instead of trying to dance with him.

Anonymous said...

Wrong decision to punt?? No way. It was clearly the correct decision, based on field position an dtime remaining. You have to depend on your defense to be able to stop a team from going the length of the field in less than two minutes, with no time-outs remaining. Coaching error? No way, unless you want to count the absolute nothing pass-defense that was coached by someone. How in the world can someone get so far behind our defense in this situation? I just wish Ryan had a stronger arm, and he could have hit Jones in stride, and we caould have gotten the ball back with a minute and a half.

Ben Snyder said...

I'm an analyst by trade and it seems clear that Rivera made the wrong choice. I was one of those guys yelling at the TV screen to go for it on 4th-and-1. Why?

As former Panthers beat writer shows today, by punting for it, Rivera decreased the chances of winning by over 26%.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/39772/analytics-rivera-made-wrong-choice

The second is to learn from the team that doesn't punt.

http://espn.go.com/espn/playbook/story/_/id/8307736/tmq-praises-coach-punt-celebrates-innovative-mind-football

From a leadership standpoint, I think it's hard to instill the idea that you're a hard-nose, leave it all on the field, kind of team if you're willing to go home with unused offensive effort. When you look at the heart of the team, you have to look at the coach.

And when you look at the coach, at least in this instance, his experience as a LB probably colored his judgment and helped him make the wrong choice.

But when you have the most expensive backfield in football, according to Marty Hurney, and you have the most mobile QB in football, punting on 4th-and-1 just seems foolish.

Anonymous said...

Even in the NFL, the worst defensive team should be able to stop the BEST offensive team if that team has 99 yds to go and zero time outs. Punting was the best call.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Scott - you have summed it up nicely. This was a coaching fail in every way possible. Rivera has failed to prepare the team at least twice this year (TB and NYG) and yesterday he didnt manage the clock well nor did he act aggressively when he should have. We dont need another John Fox 2.0 - we need someone who will motivate, prepare, and be aggressive. I am very doubtful Rivera is that guy now.

Scott Nicholson said...

Same type of gutless non-coaching that marks the Riveras of the world, and why they are just the paving stones that risk-taking winners like Belichick and Coughlin walk over on the way to championships.

Until the Hurney era ends, I don't think the culture of the Panthers will have any room for even playoff-caliber football, much less a trophy.

Anonymous said...

This team needs a coach with a strong personality....can we get Cowher??? Please?

Anonymous said...

A question I have is after Cam fumbled the Refs stopped the clock with 1:41 remaining to reveiw the play. Then when they put it back in play the play clock was at 25 seconds and the game clock remained at 1:41. Help me to understand a rule or something I must be missing because Atlanta was out of T.O's and got an extra 15 seconds to boot.

Anonymous said...

#3. Not using Armanti Edwards more @ QB!

SeanPthePhotographer said...

I can't say that going for it on 4th and a long 1 was the right option, though I feel this game was coached, generically, rather than taking a chance to get a win. Whether to go for it or not is Apples and Oranges...some coaches would, some wouldn't. Bottom line is that we got the BEST possible scenario out of it....them having to go the entire length of the field. The coaching move that is most questionable is the personel we had on the field. Experience has shown us that we can't defend the deep ball so WHY GIVE THEM TIME. send a free blitzer and make Matt Ryan rush the deep pass rather than sending 4 on Max Protection and giving him 5 seconds to step into his throw. Rivera lost this game because he failed to strategies a way to close out the game. You either go all out on offense or you play defense to prevent the big play. From the 1 yd line, they'd have to go at least 65 yards for a makeable field goal. Rivera looks outmatched every Sunday. I no longer have much invested in this team. We have great players...some good ones...some rotational guys and inexperienced coaching. It's not a good look

Anonymous said...

Training camp started this year and i look at pictures from the training camp. A LOT OF SMILING & PLAYING...even with Coach RR.
Which seems to be the problem. TOO MUCH PLAYING AND JOKING and NOT learning your assignments. Unfortunately the miscues will NOT get displayed in practice, but in games such as Atlanta & NY...where the guys look as if they had NO training camp and don't know ANY of their assignments.
Time for the coaching staff to CUT OUT ALL THE PLAYING AN PRACTICAL JOKES!! & put some urgency into the team. The CAROLINA PANTHER FANS are sick and tired of losing seasons.....PERIOD!

Buckshot Jenkins said...

This is the same gamble that the organization made when Dom Capers and John Fox called plays. This is what the Panthers want. They are not a gambling organization who goes for it. They play a close game and make everyone sweat it out at the end when they play not to lose by keeping it close.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I'm a "glass half full" kind of guy. I believe that the Panthers can correct mistakes, come together, go on a run and (Dare I say it?) even win a wild card!!!

HOWEVER, if the Panthers do flame out this season all is not lost!
I have four words for you Jerry Richardson... Bill Cowher YEAH BABY!!!

Anonymous said...

I thought the clock management at the end of the first half was excellent. Never call a time out when you're on your own half of the field with less than a minute left. Never call your second time out until there's less than 40 seconds left. After that, things worked and went perfectly, except Steve Smith fouled everything up with a stupid push off.
The Panthers were only down 3 points and were to get the ball at the start of the second half, so the number one priority was to not let the opponent score again before halftime.

Brandon said...

Grantland said it best. And it's not "playing the percentages," because there was a statistically better chance of winning by going for it on 4th and 1.

Quote:


ESPN Stats and Info also found that, since 2001, teams who ran the ball on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter with a lead and the ball between the 40- and 50-yard line have converted on 71.9 percent of those carries. And according to Brian Burke's fourth-down calculator, the Panthers would be in the right to go for it in this situation if they thought they could succeed 35 percent of the time on fourth-and-1. Thirty-five percent! Remember: that's the average team. The Panthers are not your average short-yardage running team. In addition to the considerable skills of Cam Newton, Carolina has spent nearly $50 million on running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to ensure that their running game is effective. If you don't trust your team to pick up one yard with the game on the line in the fourth quarter, why did you spend close to $50 million on running backs? What's the point of having Cam Newton?

(site note: Did Rivera really doubt his team's ability to convert after they "failed" to convert on third down? That seems impossibly short-sighted, especially considering Newton actually made it past the sticks before having the ball knocked out of his hands. Since Newton arrived in town, the Panthers have faced third- or fourth-and-1 on 24 occasions. They've converted on 21 of those 24 opportunities.)

Don't believe all those numbers? Fine. Throw all the numbers out. Pretend you've got your life savings riding on a Panthers victory. Would you rather the Panthers try to get one yard with Cam Newton or try to stop Matt Ryan from picking up 50 yards at home against Haruki Nakamura? Do you think a single Falcons fan in the Georgia Dome was upset that the Panthers didn't try to go for it against that legendarily fierce Falcons front four? Of course not. It felt like a gift because it was one.

Given his team's particular mix of strengths and weaknesses, and the extremely high stakes of the situation, Rivera's decision to punt is a strong candidate for worst coaching decision of the year. ESPN Stats and Info's win expectancy model estimates that it dropped Carolina's chances of winning from 83.5 percent to 57.4 percent without adjusting for the specific skills of the two teams; chances are that Rivera dropped his team's "true" chances of winning by 35-40 percent by punting.

Anonymous said...

Have we ever had a coach whose decisions were not constantly questioned?

I don't think the punt was necessarily the wrong call, but the defense we played after the punt did us in. Why no blitz when we knew they had to pass from their own 1 yard line? Why did our defensive backfield let the receivers get behind them on that play? Last but not least, why did we keep giving Atlanta's receivers the sideline routes when they knew Atlanta had to stop the clock after every play?

Anonymous said...

sorry guys, but the punt was absolutely the right call. if you ever hope to win a super bowl you have to be able to stop a 1st and 99 with a minute to go. the worst defense in the league should be able to hold that advantage.

as far as us running the ball so well, thats another fallacy. the panthers are not a power running team able to impose their will when the other team knows a run is coming. very few teams in the history of football have been able to do that.

deangelo is a rhythm runner and stewart is a change-of-pace runner, even though he is termed a power-runner. and cam is best when he picks his spots. none of those 3 guys strikes fear into the opponent on a short-yardage must run.

unless you have a john riggins, jim brown, larry czonka type runner, a known short-yardage situation will always favor the defense as they know exactly what you are going to do.

i didnt see the first half, but i am disheartened to read about the terrible clock management at the end of the half. and this isnt a panther-exclusive weakness. its just so silly for professional teams, with years of experience and tons of assistant coaches to be unable to correctly call a time-out. its just inexcusable.

and how do you let a receiver get behind you on a 1st and 99?

that one play probably ruined our season hopes. we could have been one game behind the division leader, with the tie-break advantage and a home game remaining against that same division leader. instead we are 3 games back with no tie-breaker advantage.

sometimes learning to be a champion is a hard road, and that is one brutal lesson in bad clock management and bad defense.

but we did show some good football and we are capable of running off a victory streak. lets hope we find that rhythm and learn from this game instead of being broken by it.

and at the very least, unlike two seasons ago, we were in the game and it was exciting. we have a ways to go, but at least we are not boring anymore!

go panthers.

Brad Ward said...

---Lack of Confidence Costs Panthers Entire Season?---

Clearly, the team was flat and disengaged on the short week vs. the Giants. I'm a loyal, understanding and forgiving fan, so I can let the home team slide on a tall, tall task like facing The World Champions on three days rest. My frustration with the Panthers at the quarter pole of 2012 season is focused more squarely on DC Sean McDermott's choices late Sunday and OC Rob Chudzinski use of this abortive Wildcat non-sense. ENOUGH already.

The calls from both coordinators at the end of the 4th quarter was schizophrenic and sand-lot-ish. After the Falcons pulled to within one point with 4:57 to go in the game the Panthers break the huddle and line up in the Wildcat on 1st down. WHAT?

Chud and the Panthers offense had successfully dictated the flow for the entire first half and much of the second. They earned quick and lasting respect from Mike Nolan's elite-ish defense on the first drive of the game with a balance of passing and rushing. So why, with an amazingly talented backfield and the continued effective bro-mance between Newton and Olsen, would you ever break the huddle and line up in the Wildcat on 1st down late in the 4th quarter while protecting a 1 point lead? Are NFL linebackers really going to honor the pass and soften up the running lanes when Cam is listlessly lined up as a wide out?

The Wildcat is an effective ploy for high-school teams, a few FCS college teams and that trifling Miami Dolphins offense from a few years back when Ronnie Effing Brown lined up at QB. It is a desperate scheme used most effectively by teams who have a passing-challenged quarterback and MUST be used more than once or twice per game to allow a rhythm to be established.

NEWS FLASH: We have a very talented quarterback who can both run and throw with a high level of effectiveness. So, to split him out wide as a WR and essentially remove him from the play is asinine, especially in front of a Mike Nolan defense. It was a a show of weakness and a revelation of a lack of confidence at best.

The Panthers had played very solid football up to this point and were poised to exit Atlanta with a 2-1 record in the NFC South and a brand new perspective on the 2012 season. However, Chud's choice to come out in Wildcat on first down prevented any momentum from being established on the potential game sealing drive as well as exposing a lack of trust in his own offensive personnel. Did he think he was going to catch Mike Nolan napping? Is splitting Cam out wide and a direct snap to non-passer really a show of offensive muscle and confidence?

It was as if the coaching staff had hit the PANIC button. The offense had a chance to close it out and Chud chose to... well, I'm not sure he chose anything (sigh).

Having said all that, I could potentially agree with Coach Rivera's choice to put his defense on the field to win the game with a minute to go. However, Coach McDermott chose NOT to line up and let his men play defense, like they had been doing with great effectiveness all afternoon, he chose to evoke the saddest of all tragedies: the Prevent Defense. The Prevent is truly only good for preventing wins in the NFL. Blame Nakamura if you must, but coach Mac botched that one.

The Wildcat and The Prevent all within three minutes of each other. Come on coach(es), we're better than that.

-Brad Ward

Anonymous said...

You mean it want Armanti's fault?