Home > Game Recaps, Preseason > Beyond the box score – Panthers @ Giants

Beyond the box score – Panthers @ Giants

The Panthers have now played their first game of the 2009 preseason, and even though they lost 24-17 to the Giants, there are still a lot of aspects to the game that are much more important than the final score.

The main reason for having preseason games (other than the obvious reason of getting players in shape) is to evaluate the players on the roster to determine depth charts and roster spots.

The Panthers are pretty much set on the starting lineups, with 21 of 22 starters returning from last season, but there are a lot of guys battling for spots on the roster.

After watching the first preseason game I went back and looked at the game stats for the Panthers, and have come to several conclusions about this team and some of the guys who are trying to make the roster or move up on the depth chart.

While most of the stats for the starters can be ignored because they only played the first quarter, it is still helpful to look at what they were able to accomplish because it helps determine how much progress is being made in training camp.

With that being said, the starting unit for the Panthers did not impress me that much last night. There were some bright spots, such as DeAngelo Williams already looking like he’s ready to take the field and rush for 100+ yards and 3 TD’s, but overall the starters looked like they were still shaking off the rust from the long offseason.

The biggest problems were with the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line couldn’t provide Jake Delhomme enough time to throw the ball, and the defensive line couldn’t stop the Giants’ running attack. It must be noted that the Giants have one of the best defenses in the league, but I would expect the offensive line to do a better job than they did last night.

I hope that it was just a “first preseason game” issue instead of a sign of things to come, because if they play like they did last night for the majority of the season, then Delhomme will be spending a lot of time picking himself up off the turf.

Even though Delhomme didn’t play up to standard, he wasn’t as bad as Josh McCown, who was absolutely brutal in his brief time in the game. McCown looked totally lost on the field, and was unable to do anything positive. He threw an interception and lost a fumble, and was only able to complete 3 of 6 passes for 29 yards.

McCown should be prepared for a tough battle for the #2 QB position, because even though Matt Moore didn’t fare much better against the Giants’ defense, he didn’t look as bad as McCown did. Also, Hunter Cantwell looked good in the 2nd half and could compete for the #3 spot on the depth chart. (I know that he was playing against the 3rd string defense, but still – he looked pretty good.)

I was interested to see how Mike Goodson would play, and I was impressed with what I saw. Even though he coughed the ball up two times, he impressed me with his speed and ability to avoid tackles in the open field. He makes good cuts and gets through holes in the defense well, but if he can’t hold on to the ball then he won’t make the roster – so he needs to work on that if he wants to be a part of the 2009 squad.

DeCori Birmingham, Jamall Lee, and Tony Fiametta played as well as expected in the limited action they saw, as all of them are looking at making the squad on special teams barring any injuries, with the possible exception of Fiametta who should be expected to battle Brad Hoover for the starting FB position.

The receivers failed to impress last night as well, though it can’t be totally blamed on them because the QB’s weren’t able to get off decent throws. And, it must also be noted that Muhsin Muhammad saw limited action and Steve Smith didn’t play any snaps at all, so there wasn’t much expectation from the receiving corps anyway.

Dwayne Jarrett was the only receiver expected to do anything, and the only thing he did was let everyone down with another mediocre performance. Kenneth Moore shined the brightest out of the bunch, making a few great catches in traffic and showing his great route running abilities.

Gary Barnridge made his case for the 2nd TE position last night, and Dante Rosario looked like Rosario Dawson out on the field, whiffing on a few key blocks that led to sacks (which has been his downfall since he’s been with the Panthers).

If Barnridge can show that he is able to throw good blocks consistently, the TE position is his. I don’t see Rosario over taking him on the depth chart any time soon, and Rosario may even find himself looking for a job at the end of preseason if he can’t improve his mediocre at best blocking skills.

Defensively, there is a lot of room for improvement. I will hold off on any judgment of the defense right now because I acknowledge that they are still learning a completely new defensive scheme from new coordinator Ron Meeks, but the inability to tackle the ball carrier is something that must be fixed immediately, or it will be a long season.

The Giants’ running backs were able to run all over the defenders for the entire game, proving that the loss of DT Ma’ake Kemoeatu will be costly if no one steps up to fill the run-stopping role that he provided.

Even though the defense looked pretty bland overall, I was impressed by the young corps of linebackers (Dan Connor and Mortty Ivy specifically), and they look like they can provide some depth in the middle for Thomas Davis and Jon Beason – something that the Panthers will need if they want to make any type of run at the postseason.

Special Teams is another area that needs some work. There are the constants of John Kasay, Rhys Lloyd, and Jason Baker but the return positions are wide open. Ryne Robinson looks to have an edge as of right now, but Larry Beavers and Mike Goodson could challenge him for that spot in the next few weeks.

Robinson and Beavers could also be competing for a 5th receiver position, so that competition may have more than one meaning behind it, and could get intense as the preseason goes along.

Overall the Panthers look like they have the potential to be a good football team this year, but there are just a few areas that need some work. But, at the end of the day it was a mildly successful first game of the preseason (even though they lost) and the team should improve as the preseason moves along.

At least we hope they will improve.

Categories: Game Recaps, Preseason
  1. Evan "McSpazz" Edwards
    19 August 2009 at 1:47 PM

    The loss of the DT (Kemoeatu) is going to be huge loss in the grand scheme of the defense changing to a Tampa 2 look. Without that ability to let the linebackers flow through their gaps it is going to leave the Panthers defense poorous against the run all season long. Another tackle will have to step up to fill that role as best as possible. If the offensive line is anywhere near average or below that also doesn't bode well for the Panthers. With the way Delhomme ended last season the last thing he needs is someone in his face every time he drops back. It all starts with the big hauses on both sides of the ball and without consistent, above average play the season will get difficult for any team.Even more so in a division like the NFC South. Tough going around every corner.With that said not much can be put into preseason games, especially the first one. Running bland offensive and defensive schemes can make even the best teams look bad. Great breakdown.

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