It's been far too long since I've blogged, and I will try to get on here more often from now on.
Sitting in the first row in the press box Sunday afternoon, I saw a few things on the field and heard some things in the box that may not make any other media outlet. Some are my observations, others just odd occurences Sunday, but here goes:- There was a joke in the great movie "Major League" where Bob Uecker says that you can tell a lot about the season from the first batter of the year (in that case, Willie Mays Hayes got an accidental single and was picked off at first). If the same is true about the Panthers from the timing of the jets' flyover at Bank of America Stadium (a good 30 seconds late), it could be a long season for the Carolina faithful.
- Why have most of us never heard of the Tampa Bay quarterback, Josh Freeman? He's got good size (6'6", 248 lbs), has good mobility and scrambling ability (43 yards on four carries) and was efficient if not impressive through the air (12-of-24, 128 yds, 2 TD's, no picks). The offensive line for the Bucs did a great job Sunday of picking up the Carolina blitzes. Several times, Carolina brought extra rushers, and the line and running backs for the Bucs picked them up and gave Freeman time to throw.
- Moore will not be starting this Sunday against Cincinnati, and most will presume it is all to do with him. Unfortunately for Jimmy Claussen, he will have the same offensive line that had problems protecting Moore. Also, the pass coverage that you did not see on the television (which focus more on the battle at the line) for the Bucs had the Panthers covered most of the time. I'm not sure if anyone should shoulder the blame for that on the Carolina side, but it seemed like the Tampa defense was prepared for this game, scheme wise, bringing a lot of pressure and keeping Moore offbalance while keeping the Panthers' pass targets covered.
- On the Panthers' touchdown drive, Dante Rosario was credited for a 26-yard pass that looked like on replay it hit the ground, but Carolina quickly ran a play before the Bucs could challenge. Someone on the Tampa side dropped the ball on that one.
- What you may not have seen on Moore's interception was a streaking David Gettis who might have been the only player on that play that Moore could have gotten the ball to succesfully. Gettis ran a streak pattern straight down the field designed to open up the two receivers underneath, but Tampa's backs jumped both short routes, leaving the long one open. People will likely use that play as a reason for Moore's benching.
- Another thing you may not have see on TV was Jimmy Claussen taking the field during a TV timeout to a standing ovation from Panthers fans, provoking a comment from the press box about the luck of the Irish. Now that Claussen is starting, let's see how long the fans' loyalty lasts if he struggles, or if the fans are proven right should Claussen blossom.
- I still am trying to understand why the Panthers ran the ball with a backup running back two times inside the 5 yard line in the fourth quarter, trailing 20-7 with just under five minutes left in the game. The Panthers only had two time outs left at that point, losing one earlier in the half on a challenge. If you're going to run the ball, why not put your first-round draft picks on the field? Besides that, basic football strategy would say that you need to pass the ball into the endzone to save time on the clock because you will have to use those timeouts likely on defense to get the football back. So, instead of possibly scoring to make it 20-14 with around 4:30 left, the Panthers didn't make it in and Tampa had the ball with 3:30 left. Carolina got the ball back with 3:30 left, but then needed two scores without time outs, which would have been nearly impossible to pull off without timeouts. Their strategy in the final five minutes was a little odd, in my opinion.
I hope the Panthers look better against Cincinnati, but they have plenty more to work on than just changing quarterbacks.