Consider game #1 of the regular season a success. Cam Newton throws 24/37 for 422 yards, 2 TD’s and 1 INT, which was called back because of a penalty on the Cardinals. This should pass any expectations that were previously stated about Cam. Steve Smith was definitely happy after pulling in 8 receptions for 178 yards. Olsen did his share with 4 receptions for 78 yards and made it a good night for the Panthers offense. So why did the Panthers lose the game?
The first big mistake was playing Jon Beason. I said for two weeks that they should wait until at least the Green Bay game before allowing him on the field, but did they listen? Well, let’s just hope that those new cleats helped soften the blow of what could be a season-ending injury. A very careless and stupid move on part of the Panthers coaching staff that was absolutely unnecessary.
Looking at the defensive stats, Carolina forced two fumbles and nearly made an interception close to Arizona’s endzone. Granted, none of these actually became turnovers, but Fitzgerald being limited to only 3 receptions for 62 yards is a sign that the defense was doing something right. Overall sacks was not one of them since Carolina only got 2. That being said, there was not much that Beason really contributed to all night. That’s not a bad thing on his part, but now he may suffer because of executive imprudence.
The Panthers offense did what it was asked tonight despite an O-line that allowed 3 sacks on Newton. The running game never took off, but they were only about 20 yards shy of Arizona’s running totals. Cam did everything that any team could hope for from a QB. Make completions, throw some TD’s and maintain possession. Not only did he convert 2 passing TD’s , but he ran in a TD. Soon other players might be fighting to catch up. The Panthers overall time of possession was 32:47 compared to Arizona’s 27:13. What beat the Panthers tonight was allowing the big plays to happen.
A 70-yard TD from Early Doucet and a 48-yard TD from former Panthers tightend Jeff King were what kept Carolina’s week 1 victory from coming to fruition. I had Carolina winning this game 24-17 and the only things that changed that were two easy TD’s that should have been stopped.
This is the NFL. In fact, many of the teams expected to win tonight were either beaten or crushed. Carolina has almost a new everything and are trying to find their niche. After tonight’s game, Panther fans should be optimistic for the future of the organization. They showed tonight that they are capable of making plays and highlight reels. What lies ahead are game-learning experiences and chemistry building. As Cam Newton said in an interview, “If I can get it 100%, watch out.” Cam was about 90% tonight. The O-line and D-line need to pull that last 10% if the Panthers want a winning season this year.