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Found 12 results

  1. Daryl Worley had it rough from the start. Expected to be the #2 corner of a decimated Panthers secondary, it's certainly no easy task for any rookie coming out of college. The typical rookie corner would fail under these conditions. It's just hard to be a good corner right out of the gate. Even so, Worley took the challenge head on. Putting his best on the field, he showed growth week after week; his play getting better by the minute. What started off as a roller-coaster of horror ended in a steady stream of potential and growth. It's not far-fetched to say Worley is not that far behind Bradberry's game at this point. So, what made Worley's 2016 season so special? Are people overlooking just how good Worley is? Will Worleybird and Beastberry be making headlines in 2017 as one of the NFL's premiere CB tandems? Take a look at Worley's film. The answer is in his own play. Daryl Worley's 2016 Rookie Season In Review Coming in as a rookie, Worley needed all the help he could get. It's hard to expect Worley to be able to handle NFL receivers on his own. McDermott's solution was to have Worley give a lot of cushion to wide-outs in coverage. This helped Worley have an advantage against deep routes and getting burned, as he has more room and time for error. However, this often put him at a disadvantage at defending short routes and passes. Players gained good chunks of yards on Worley by exploiting this weakness. Hyde gets an easy reception for a good 6 yards on a simple short route. Although Worley does close in and show good tracking and tackling, he still had a whole lot of empty space in front of him begging for an easy reception. Granted, Bradberry also had the same issue of giving up a lot of cushion to wide receivers. Nevertheless, it still proves how limited Worley was as a new rookie. It was also common to see Worley let up on simple first downs. Worley often had a lot of help surrounding him, but to no avail. Worley's hips didn't flip as fast as they should've, giving the 49er wideout plenty of room to work with. Running his route, the 49er receiver had just the room he needed to make an easy first down reception on a 3rd and long. Worley didn't stand a chance at preventing the inevitable. To top it off, Worley was part of the reason Vance McDonald went for a long TD. During Worley's life alert moment, McDonald was able to weave through the Panthers defense for a rather easy touchdown. Without Worley being there in prime position to stop him, it was just a matter of out-running everyone to the endzone. The 49ers elected to do a sail concept in this play. TE McDonald takes a vertical release and cuts on the 7 route. Chip dialed up a cover 3 beater as he noticed the Panthers defense hinting towards that formation. Worley would've been in position to prevent this from being a touchdown, but tripping up nullified his role. Even with all these rookie mistakes, Worley still flashed potential. Discounting the McDonald touchdown, Worley never gave up a huge play all day. He showed he could deflect and defend passes with solid coverage in certain instances. Knowing that his receiver would go for the first down on an obvious 3rd and down situation, Worley sits and waits for him to come right into his trap. Having the 49er covered right during the turn, Worley comes in to break up the pass on a solid play. It's stuff like this that became more common as the weeks went by. Worley's start was rough. He'd occasionally whiff tackles, give up first downs, and hand over a lot of yards. As @CPantherKing said, Daryl 'Whiff' Worley gave up a lot of plays due to his inexperience. However, this incompetence didn't last long. Unlike popular opinion, I believe he showed starter level consistency beginning week 6. In fact, the amount of flaws in Worley's game dropped dramatically since then. Sure, the 3-4 yard chunks occasionally came due to McDermott's scheme, but rarely did Worley appear as the prime culprit of mishaps. After the Julio debacle that Worley partly contributed to, our secondary was the laughingstock of the NFL. Worley's game was like night and day as he went up against Mike Evans. With a little help from Coleman, Worley was able to lock up Mike Evans step by step. This forced Evans out of the play. It would take a picture perfect pass from Jameis - which he's not usually able to do deep - in order to give Evans a chance. Worley was in prime pass-breakup position the whole time, so even that possibility was low. Worley showed dominance he never did a few weeks before against Julio. It was night and day with his performance, stepping in for an injured Bradberry. Although he did give up one TD to Mike Evans that was all on him, Worley did real well for most of the night. It was this night when Worley made it clear he was learning and growing, and it showed. Later in the season, Worley stepped it up. The Panthers knew Worley was getting the hang of things, and it showed in their new playcalls for Worley. For instance, take a look at this defensive formation: Notice Daryl Worley in press man with the other half of the field in zone. This usually happens when the team is comfortable in your abilities to play one on one with receivers and win match-ups, which basically means the team considers you a solid corner. It was clear the Panthers began to trust Worley more and more as a viable starter. When playing press, Worley showed more comfort and fluidity than in the beginning of the year. His hips flipped at a much faster rate than normal and his timing impeccable. Against the Rams WR, Worley stands in press coverage and stands step by step with him. Turning and flipping his hips in rapid fashion, Worley ensures that his receiver does not get the upperhand. Don't downgrade his impact going one on one against receivers. In man coverage, Worley held down his man in picture perfect technique. Given his one on one chances, Daryl Worley really showed up. Unlike prior weeks, Worley was given more of a chance to go after receivers on his own without the need of having much help surrounding him. However, that doesn't mean he didn't make mistakes. Take for instance this play: For one, it's a weird defensive formation that got two Cardinal wide receivers wide open on opposite ends of the endzone. Worley and Coleman have some sort of miscommunication, leading to Worley's receiver being wide open for an easy touchdown. Without Coleman and Worley switching, the result was them getting jammed on the wrong guy. However, Worley showed tremendous growth from this learning experience. Take this other play from the SD game: Bill Voth explains it best here: Worley learned from his past mistake on a very similar play involving Antonio Gates. This is the type of stuff you just love seeing from rookies, and the pace Worley is learning the ropes is staggering. Daryl Worley's coverage kept getting better as the weeks went on. No longer did he whiff as much as he used to, nor did he seem to be as scared of going up against an NFL wideout. In his first interception of the year against SD, Worley was stuck like glue on his WR. Although a tad underthrown by Rivers, Worley was never beat the whole play. No matter if Rivers placed it perfectly or not; Worley was going to make a play on that ball. Later in the year against the Raiders, Worley and Bradberry got a taste of going against two of the league's hottest WRs in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Worley played lights out and had himself a really nice game. Going against Amari Cooper in the endzone, Worley stayed locked on and deflected a sure touchdown. Cooper had no chance with Worley draped all over him, contributing to one of Amari Cooper's worst games of the season. Worley actually went against Amari Cooper a lot more than originally thought and did really well. Going up against Cooper is no easy task, but Worley stayed put and did his job. Cooper would try everything to take advantage and get something out of these corners, but no one let up. First of all, Amari Cooper's footwork is a thing of beauty. It's not often you see NFL WRs carry out such beauty in their feet, but Cooper does this flawlessly. Worley counters by staying safe and not biting, forcing Cooper to retreat to the left for just a small gain. The thing with this is the fact there was a play just like this the prior week that led to a touchdown in Oakland's favor. The fact Worley negated this to just a small chunk is quite impressive. Worley's coverage was nowhere short of impressive. Against these dangerous WRs, Worley was unhinged. He stood strong and played his role down to the letter. In this particular instance, Worley finishes up with an impressive pass breakup. Staying step by step with his receiver and covering him up like a blanket, it's not that far off to say his play looks just as good as Bradberry's. His run defense is nothing to scoff at either. PFF was not kidding when they said Worley's one of the best rookie run defenders in the league. Worley comes in at blinding speed towards the edge, stonewalling the Raiders RB to a halt. With proper tackling form, Worley pretty much eradicates @CPantherKing's "whiff" nickname as he hones in on his target; taking him out swiftly and effectively. Worley continued to look better and better as the weeks went by. When faced with new challenges and situations, Worley took them head on and came out on the winning side. Against DeSean Jackson - Tampa's new WR - Worley stayed with him. When a Washington WR attempted to set up a pick against Worley, he simply brushed right past that attempt and forced Jackson to go vertical. The result was an incompletion. Finalizing his rookie campaign, Worley had his rematch against Tampa once again. Without missing a beat, Worley stood up to the challenge and played phenomenally. In this instance, the Buccaneers call 2 seam verticals. Carolina opts into cover 3. Worley does a beautiful job reading the play and causing a pass breakup against the Bucs receiver. Not an easy play for any normal corner to make, but Worley does it beautifully. Worley's physicality grew more intense as the year went on. He wasn't afraid to go up and get rough with anyone when need be. That was no exception against Jameis' offense. Worley goes inside and roughly pushes down the Tampa WR, disrupting the throw. Worley prevents a TD by getting physical and ensuring that the receiver had no chance of holding on to the ball. A very smart and savvy play by Worley. Man coverage was something Worley really got the hang of as the season hit its twilight stage. He stayed on his man consistently and locked him up well. Now, don't let my boy Bradberry's amazing lockdown of Mike Evans distract you from Worley. Worley was able to stay step by step with his man even when the WR put a move on him and turned around. Worley trailed and stuck on him like glue, eliminating him as a possible target. A lot better than the beginning of the year where a play like this would leave Worley in the dust. Worley's performance against Tampa was fantastic. It brought hope to many Panther fans about the future, and shut up the doubters for a moment. Worley shined and played like the premiere corner he was. Conclusion Daryl Worley had a very underrated 2016 campaign. He had a steeper learning curve to climb in comparison to Bradberry, but he showed up real well. For a rookie, you couldn't ask for better growth and development. Worley looked like his own by the year's end, and I'd even argue he's nearly on the same level as Bradberry right now. PFF gives a good review of Worley. After starting the season off in the 80s-90s, Worley finished off the season as the 55th ranked cornerback. His 75.4 grade put him above the likes of Revis, and fan favorites Trae Waynes and Delvin Breaux. He exceeds the likes of rookie Eli Apple who seems to be the media's other rookie darling. While his coverage is considerably lower than Bradberry's, his run defense of 79.7 puts him in the top 15 of cornerbacks. With Steve Wilks now manning the defense, it's not far-fetched to assume Wilks will be far more aggressive than McDermott was. With Worley and Bradberry both coming into their own, our defense will no longer have to compensate our linebackers or scheme to give our corners cushion. Add in Munnerlyn and this defense is sure to be scary good. Don't count out Daryl Worley. He isn't far behind Bradberry at this stage of his career, and he's only scratching the surface.
  2. Devin Funchess. After a stellar 2016 training camp, Devin Funchess looked prime and ready to have a breakout season. With his fluid route-running and ability to beat DBs, everyone thought Funchess was ready to take the next step and become a huge threat. Sadly, that scenario never panned out. Coming off a disappointing 6-10 season, WR Devin Funchess had 23 receptions out of 59 targets for a total of 371 yards. He accounted for 11 failed receptions on accurate throws, and the 4th worst in the NFL at getting separation. His only bright spot was gaining YAC, as he was 11th most productive in the league. Not a very good look for any NFL WR's resume. With stats like these, many are ready to write Funchess off as a bust. After showing promise and hope during his rookie season & during practice, he disappointed where it mattered. Even so, I believe Funchess still has a lot of potential. Out of all our WRs, he has the most WR1 potential. He's still a very good route-runner, has fantastic measurables, and does well at finding ways to get YAC. Although he still has to be more consistent, I think Funchess will eventually pan out as our best WR in the future. Why am I confident in this idea? Well, take a look at his film and you'll see why. What Funchess Needs To Work On Consistency. That's the main issue. At times, Funchess will show up any DB with his size and route-running ability. At other times, he may get beat at the snap and never find a way to separate/catch the ball. One issue he has is an issue I have with OJ Howard. With Funchess' size, he needs to learn to press and beat smaller defensive backs. He will occasionally let the smaller guys beat him and force needless interceptions. On the play above, the Panthers designed a play to exploit what should've been a mismatch between Funchess and the Saints. Cam Newton locks onto Funchess, expecting him to win his assignment. As it turns out, Funchess was beat right at the snap, letting the DB grab an easy INT. Another issue is consistency at the catch point. Funchess will sometimes show little effort when trying to draw in the ball. On the play depicted above, Funchess is able to gain a step on Xavier Rhodes for the deep ball. Cam Newton throws a picture perfect pass, but Funchess was unable to haul it in. Rather than attempt to leap or put forth much effort to catch the ball, Funchess lets the play slide. This issue and Funchess inconsistency need to be fixed. Sure, Funchess needed far more opportunities than what he got, but stuff like this shouldn't be happening. Even so, I think there's a lot to get excited about Funchess, and a lot pointing to the amount of missed opportunities for Funchess. Funchess' Potential & CAR's Missed Opportunities Now for the good stuff. Funchess has a lot of athletic potential. His metrics prove he's a guy who can do it all. With very good athleticism, Funchess shows he is very capable of taking WR1 duties. He can thank his athleticism for his fluid route running and flexibility. One thing people seem to miss is how young Funchess is. He's currently 23 years old entering his third year in the NFL. That's about as young as some NFL rookies this year. Being young means learning to grow in a bigger frame and having a steeper learning curve. Nevertheless, Funchess has flashed enough to convince me he's capable of going far. Funchess' bread and butter happens to be the Bang 8 route. A very complicated process, this route style requires the quarterback and receiver to be quick and precise. The receiver must shoot out of his break and cut at an angle to get leverage on the defender. If he doesn't get leverage, a safety can nail him over the middle or jump the route for an interception. On the play above, watch as Funchess runs the bang 8 route. Derek Anderson throws with the accuracy, quickness, and precision he's well known for while Funchess runs the route fluidly. The safety is unable to meet up in time when Funchess catches it. Funchess turns this into a big play as he shakes off two defenders and goes for the YAC. Funchess' route-running is stellar. He runs with fluidity and technicality. The Bang 8 route is no simple route, yet Funchess runs it effortlessly. He has very high potential as an elite route runner in the future. On another play shown above, watch Funchess run his route and beat the Saints DB once again before the safety showed up. He runs with fluidity and accuracy and hauls in the ball for a touchdown. Against tougher competition, Devin Funchess still shines. Against one of the NFL's best corners in Marcus Peters, Funchess finds his way against him. On the play shown above, watch Funchess run his route, gaining separation against CB Marcus Peters. Cam throws a perfect ball downfield for an easy reception by Funchess and walk in touchdown. Not many WRs get their way against Peters, yet Funchess finds a way. Once again, Funchess' routes are often fluid and precise. He has the ability to gain YAC, as evidenced by him being the 11th best in the league. On the play depicted above, Funchess looks inside, then snaps his head to the out route. He proceeds to run and stiff arm the defender for YAC. The result was a solid 28 yard gain by Funchess for the first down. Funchess is a very flexible WR. He can play in the slot or on the outside and perform really well. On the 3x1 formation, watch Funchess cut inside from the slot. He's able to beat the defender going deep for a solid gain and play. He gets a little bit of YAC even with the defender draping him afterwards. Funchess shows he can make big plays. With his route-running and style, he beats defenders regularly for good chunks and plays on his limited opportunities. However, now the big issue: missed opportunities. No, not Funchess causing those "missed opportunities." More often than not, the Panthers offense let Funchess down in one way or another. Whether it be Cam Newton, playcalling, or just not even given the chance of a read, Funchess showed he could've been part of a play but just wasn't given the chance. For instance, what if I told you we could've sealed the Oakland game on 4th and 10 with an easy FG or possible TD? What if I told you the Khalil Mack strip sack could've been prevented? Well, guess what? We could've done both of both of these things if Funchess wasn't an afterthought. On the play above, rewatch our disappointment once again as Turner gets beat by Mack for a Cam Newton sack. At the time, it appears like Cam Newton had no opportunity to get rid of the ball, or that no WR was open in time. Further analysis digs up a much deeper problem. Everyone knows me as a Cam Newton apologist. I consider him a top 3 QB even with last year, and most of our offensive woes came directly from inefficient WR play. I've explained that subject again and again in the past. However, if I'm going to criticize him for anything, it's locking on to his "go-to" WRs too much. Cam focuses and lock on to Benjamin or Olsen far too often, leaving other WRs with little opportunity to shine. Even Cam Newton acknowledged this was an issue: Looking at the play above, there was a potentially game-saving opportunity missed. In these two pictures, look at Funchess going against a LB. He has clear leverage against the Raiders linebacker and was wide open for a play. Cam Newton had enough space in his pocket when Funchess got open (see bottom right of top picture) to make a throw without any issue to prevent the strip-sack. However, look at Cam's eyes in the first picture. Cam's locked on to Kelvin Benjamin the whole time, not even bothering to see if Funchess beat his one-on-one against a linebacker. Perhaps it's part of the play design, but Cam should have been able to read that Funchess was up against a LBer for an easy completion. That's probably why Ron Rivera said they didn't use Funchess enough: On another play, Cam Newton once again locks on to Kelvin Benjamin: Possibly a half-read, he looks at KB's way the whole time and fits a very good deep ball in his hands. On the other side of the field, Funchess gets the Raiders DB to trip up and get himself wide open on what could've been another touchdown opportunity. Most likely, this play was designed to get the ball in KB's hands the whole time. This goes back to Ron's comments about not getting Funchess enough opportunities. Although this play ended up a touchdown either way, Cam probably could've fit an easier deep ball in Funchess' hand for the sure touchdown. Cam Newton is a very accurate pocket passer. He normally hits the deep ball really well and better than most QBs in the league. However, he's not infallible. On the play above, watch Funchess run a really nice route against the Rams corner. He gets the upper hand and gains nice separation on the play. Cam Newton has one of his rare overthrows on what should've been a walk in touchdown. The sad thing for Funchess is how he just never gets many opportunities. When he does, it seems that more often than not something else was the primary factor for Funchess not hauling something in. On the play above, Funchess beats a 4.41 speed Saints DB on the snap and has clear leeway for a possible touchdown. He gains a step on the defensive back and gets downfield towards the endzone. However, Cam Newton underthrows the ball when targeting Funchess. Cam rarely does this, yet it seems Funchess has some "bad luck" charm around him. Funchess is forced to slow down to compensate, allowing the Saints DB to catch up and turn this play into a dud. Finally, Funchess could've helped prevent the catastrophe of KB and Cam tearing his rotator cuff all in one play. On the play shown above, watch on the bottom right corner of the screen. Funchess goes against the SD corner and gets open going right. If Cam threw his way, Funchess would use likely use his ability to box out for an easy TD reception. However, Cam threw to KB instead, leading to the "no effort KB" catastrophe and near pick six. So, how does this play prevent Cam's torn rotator cuff? Well, take a look at what happened while the SD corner brought the ball back: Cam Newton rams his right shoulder on the SD defender, then trips and falls on the ground hard on the same shoulder. The accumulation of these hits in that game likely was the reason Cam's rotator cuff was torn. With KB's mistake, Cam Newton had to be the big man and show the effort Benjamin didn't show at the cost of his own shoulder. Nevertheless, if Funchess was given more opportunities, this event likely could've been prevented. Funchess is a very good receiver. However, so many opportunities were missed on what would've been big plays for the offense. Funchess needs far more attention. His play shows he's capable of being a big piece of this offense. Conclusion Devin Funchess has a lot of potential. From his metrics to his ability on the field, Funchess has shown he has the ability to become Carolina's WR1. His potential exceeds Kelvin Benjamin's, and his youth shows he still has a lot of upside. The only big issue with Funchess is his consistency. Funchess needs to start using his body and frame to beat the smaller DBs and not let them get the best of him. He needs to win more contested catches and exert more effort at the catch point. However, what Funchess really needs is more opportunities. A lot of what was seen in practice last off-season was showing on the field, yet Funchess was often not part of the read/not even targeted. The Panthers have already admitted their mistake of not using Funchess to his fullest, but they need to show it on the field rather than just talk. Funchess has a lot of potential to be our best WR. However, it's up to the Panthers to unlock and tap into that potential.
  3. So, Trai Turner did a number on Solomon Thomas. Completely disrespects his move, then finishes off with a nice body slam. Welcome to the NFL, Thomas. *Please note I don't mean an actual pancake when Trai leaps on Thomas from behind. As many others have said, that is indeed not a technical pancake. Meant it figuratively in terms of having a 300lb+ smash a guy to the ground in a broader sense. Sorry for the confusion.
  4. Christian McCaffrey had 15 touches, but not many yards to show for it. On paper, he didn't seem to be much of a factor, as the 49ers successfully shut down the hyped up rookie. However, he's already helped show a glimpse of just where this offense can be. The 49ers understood CMC was a threat. And that opened up a lot of opportunities. Check out the Shepard touchdown. The Panthers are in a 3x1 formation, which they seemed to be using a lot when their CMC plays didn't work. The 49ers are playing half zone and half man with a single high safety in the back. The play is actually pretty good. The Panthers have Olsen and CMC draw out the three defenders playing zone, the two outside receivers on the right draw away the two other man defenders, while Russell Shepard cuts across the middle and draws the single high safety. The result? Shepard takes that easy match-up the play presented, and finds himself in the endzone. A pretty good playcall showing understanding of the match-up issues Christian McCaffrey brings, and how much he affects the defense. Although most of Shula's playcalls were terrible this game (too much force feeding CMC, and a lot of weird, dumb stuff), he showed some bright spots. Hopefully this week serves as a lesson and doesn't continue in the future. Expect a lot more creative ways to get our guys open in the future with CMC's presence.
  5. Curtis Samuel. The play-maker. Samuel was the engine of the Ohio State offense, separating himself as the most dangerous offensive weapon on the roster. Molding his game after Percy Harven, Samuel played as a standout receiver who could line up in the backfield. During his Junior year, Samuel accumulated 865 yards and seven touchdowns on 74 receptions. He ranked second in the conference in all three metrics, and was named a member of the first-team All-Big Ten as a wide receiver. Curtis Samuel is the only player in Ohio State history to finish with 1,000+ yards rushing and 1,000+ yards receiving. Curtis Samuel's speed and quickness is of another world. He posted an official time of 4.31 seconds in his first attempt of the 40-yard dash, making it the fastest 40 time posted by a Buckeye at the NFL Combine since 1999. Even former Buckeye Ted Ginn Jr. didn't match his speed. The Panthers selected Curtis Samuel with the 40th overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft. Many NFL fans were shocked and surprised at this pick, as his game is quite similar to Panthers first round pick Christian McCaffrey. However, the Panthers understand Curtis Samuel's going to be a play-maker on their offense in a uniquely different way. Dave Gettleman had plenty of glowing words when asked for his thoughts on Samuel: The Panthers drafted Samuel knowing he's a play-maker, a speedster, and an impact player. However, questions remain. What kind of player is Curtis Samuel? Is he really that much different than Christian McCaffrey? What does Curtis Samuel bring to the table with his play? The answer to these questions can be found in Curtis Samuel's film. Curtis Samuel - A Slot Receiving Nightmare Curtis Samuel is a play-maker. He can be used anywhere on the field and be a threat. Whether in the slot, as a runningback, or as a returner, Curtis Samuel knows how to make plays on the field. However, his true strength lies on his receiving ability. There's a common misconception among some NFL fans that Curtis Samuel's a runningback who plays some wide-receiver. They assume his strength is him as a runner and that he's not refined enough at the receiver position. Just take a look at this comment by resident Falcon fan @falconidae: To clear up this fake news, understand Curtis Samuel is a WR who can play RB - not the other way around. Per Pro Football Focus, Samuel had 220 snaps from the backfield, much less than his 425 snaps from the slot. He's more experienced as a wide-receiver than as runningback. I don't think there will be any "rough" transition period for him. A savvy route-runner, Curtis Samuel is a threat in the slot. He beats defenders using an arsenal of cuts and moves to get himself open. Once he has the ball in his hands, Samuel will use his quickness and speed to pull away from defenders down the field. Curtis Samuel is at his best playing down the middle in space. When the opportunity presents itself, Samuel finds a way to get open down the middle more often than not. Using double moves and crisp one-cuts, he finds a way to get himself in space. For instance, check out the play above. Curtis Samuel motions from the backfield to the slot, lining himself against a defensive back in the process. Realizing the linebacker blitzed, he initiates a clean double move and gets open down the middle with wheels blazing. The result? A touchdown with the defender lagging behind. Samuel has the ability to quickly release at the line of scrimmage and getting open fast in the short game. He finds ways to get open and make an impact as a short-yardage receiver. On the top play, watch Samuel cut, release, and get himself open at the 50 yard line. Pivoting and turning his body towards the quarterback, Curtis Samuel opens himself as a quick target for a five yard gain. A fluid and quick play. On the following play, watch Curtis Samuel recognize the linebackers blitzing on a short TD throw and get himself open quickly in space. The QB initiates a quick jump throw to Samuel, resulting in an easy completion and touchdown. As I've reiterated for a while, Cam Newton hasn't had a receiver like this in his career. I went over a section of that in another post, so I shouldn't need to repeat myself so often. Just know CAR's WRs weren't fit for the short passing game due to their inability to release fast at the LoS + primarily vertical threats, and Curtis Samuel will help fix that. One interesting fact about Curtis Samuel is how fluid his route-running is. Although he only became a full-time starter his junior year, Samuel's routes look clean and refined. On the play above, Curtis Samuel initiates a simple route by adding a jab step with a head fake to it down the middle without losing any speed or momentum. A fluid and quick route that some refined NFL route-runners may have trouble accomplishing. Some wide-receivers tend to "dance" or "jiggle" in front of a defender before initiating a move, slowing down their momentum and making them more prone to being caught up by a defender. When Curtis Samuel runs his routes, he tends to use one or two simple cuts without losing a step. That gives him an advantage, as the defender will likely be slower to react to such a move-set. Not many wide-receivers can do this. Curtis Samuel hasn't had many chances against press coverage. However, he's shown he can handle it really well when the opportunity presents itself. On the play above, watch as Curtis Samuel faces a corner in press coverage. He initiates a nice release, then "stacks" against the corner and pulls away for a touchdown. A fine way of handling press coverage. When facing tough competition, Curtis Samuel rises up to the occasion. Against college name-brand defenders (Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, etc.), Samuel finds a way to embarrass them. On the play above, Samuel begins with a hesitation that stops CB Jourdan Lewis right in his tracks. He uses his hands to keep himself clean and gets himself wide open. The QB overthrows this - as he normally does on a lot of throws - but that doesn't negate Curtis Samuel's skill. Jourdan Lewis would go on to be a third round pick for the Dallas Cowboys and is expected to be groomed into an impact player soon. Curtis Samuel shows he can go against good competition and feast. Finally, Curtis Samuel's abilities to get open is unparalleled. Using a large variety of techniques and moves, Curtis Samuel reads his QB and finds a way to make himself useful in the passing game. On the play above, watch as Curtis Samuel Samuel cuts to the left. As he notices a defender coming out from his right, he drops his hips & weight, hard stops, cuts quickly to the left and work his way outside. Although it was a non-target, it showed just how well Curtis Samuel strings together a variety of moves to get himself open. Defenders have a hard time covering him due to how much he moves around on the field. Curtis Samuel is one of the best - if not the best - slot receiver from his draft class. From his route-running that loses no speed, to his ability to get himself open in space, Curtis Samuel is a dangerous weapon to use. Curtis Samuel - Space Eater, & A Deep Threat Curtis Samuel makes big plays when you least expect it. He has this ability to turn simple slants down the middle into breakaway TD runs. Whenever Curtis Samuel enters in space, defenders turn into statues as they sluggishly attempt to keep up with Curtis Samuel's physics-defying speed. At the combine, Curtis Samuel ran a 4.31 on the 40 yard dash in what would be the second fastest time overall - second only to John Ross. Due to him running after Ross, his spectacular time is often overlooked and forgotten. However, his teammates at OSU know he's a speedy specimen. Billy Price - offensive lineman at OSU - gives his thoughts to ESPN below: Curtis Samuel is at his best when he gets open down the middle in space. He gets deep from the slot and finds a way to give himself a wide-open window in a variety of ways. When going one-on-one against defenders in the middle, Curtis Samuel will usually win the battle and turn it into a big play. His speed allows him to outrun any defender and leave them in the dust. On the play above, Curtis Samuel gets himself wide open down the middle in space with a defender lagging behind. As Curtis Samuel catches the ball, he bursts through and leaves the defender in the dust. A clear open touchdown won using incredible speed. With Ted Ginn Jr. eyeing the money (once again) and leaving for the Saints, Cam Newton needs another speedy deep threat. Curtis Samuel provides that option for Cam. On the play above, watch as Cam Newton heaves down a throw to Ted Ginn Jr. down the middle in a way that allows him to not lose a step. A similar play to what Curtis Samuel ran on the other play above. Whenever a speedster gets open down the middle, Cam has shown he maximizes their impact and speed with how accurate his deep balls are. Curtis Samuel fits well with Cam. On the deep ball, Curtis Samuel shows the potential of getting open against outside corners and weave his way near the sidelines. He generally leaves defenders lagging behind as they fail to keep up with Samuel's 4.31 speed. On the play above (credit here for all-22 GIF), watch as Curtis Samuel weaves past defenders with other-worldly speed toward the end-zone. Samuel starts off with a nice inside release, then stacks the DB back to stay right on his route. He bursts through to pull away from defenders and avoids contact. Although this is another example of a blown play by a horrible QB, Samuel still shows his potential as a deep threat. Pairing him with Cam Newton is a nasty combination, and he should only get better with a QB that is actually accurate deep. Curtis Samuel's really good at tracking the ball and weaving through coverage. He will find a soft spot in any zone and get himself open down deep for the pass. On the play above, watch as Curtis Samuel weaves his way downfield. He speeds through a path between defenders and finds a way to get open near the edges of the field. Tracking the ball well, Samuel hauls it in deep for a good gain with a decent bit of YAC. If there were no safety ahead of him, Curtis Samuel would've likely taken the ball to the house. His burst would've allowed him to gain ground and bypass every defender lagging behind him. Curtis Samuel in space is something no defensive coordinator ever wants to see. When Curtis cuts right in the middle, chances are he'll find a way to get himself wide open. That's never a good thing for a defense. On the play above, watch Curtis Samuel find his way into space, bursting through and pulling away from defenders. As he catches the ball, Samuel finds himself in the endzone with the closest defender yards away. It's pretty comical to see how slow Curtis Samuel makes defenders look. His speed, quickness, and ability in space make him a dangerous deep threat. Curtis Samuel is a threat to burst through for the end-zone on any given play. That's a scary addition for this Panthers offense. Curtis Samuel - The Reliable Tough Catcher Curtis Samuel was one of OSU's most reliable weapons. He had a tendency to hold on to the ball with brute strength from another dimension as if it were infused to his body. He rarely drops any balls and has a knack of making clutch plays. According to CFB Film Room, Samuel's reliability was of another world: "Curtis Samuel is the last player on the field you'd expect to drop a pass." Just think about that statement for a moment. Imagine Ginn with a 3.2% drop rate. Now imagine him catching clutch passes, in traffic, and being bulldozed by defenders. That's only a part of what Samuel brings to the table. A common theme in Curtis Samuel's repertoire is how well he handles catching balls with harsh contact. He does not falter one bit when a defender bulldozes him on the field with blinding speed and power. On the two plays shown above, Curtis Samuel makes a brutal catch with a defender right behind him. As he's in the process of catching the ball, the defender comes at a high rate of speed and power, smashing and bashing into Samuel hard. Yet even under these dire circumstances, Samuel holds onto the ball like a rock. He does not waver one bit and goes down hard. With hard-hitters like Keanu Neal and Deion Jones in the NFC South, it's refreshing to see a guy who can handle all their physicality. Curtis Samuel is very aware of the events transpiring on the field. He finds ways of keeping himself open and making himself a target. Not only that, but he makes incredibly clutch catches in situations that require it. In this one example, watch as Curtis Samuel improvises and waits on his scrambling QB to throw the ball at him. He gets himself open in a way the Clemson corner cannot reach him and makes an incredible over-the-sideline catch. Afterwards, he immediately looks to gain a few extra yards with space behind him. Samuel's very aware of everything that's happening, and his ability to make plays is unlike any other. One thing that Samuel should work to fix on is timing and catching outside his frame. If Samuel dropped a ball, it was generally an out-of-frame ball that requires the WR to jump/extend outwards to make a play. On this overthrow, Curtis Samuel actually had an opportunity to make a play. Had he timed his jump just right, he would've been able to reach the ball over his head and haul it in. Unfortunately, Curtis Samuel mistimes and allows this ball to be turned in as an interception. Curtis Samuel doesn't usually drop balls, but he needs to work on timing on out of frame throws. Some argue Samuel's more of a body catcher and can't catch with his hands, but I disagree with that. He has shown on plenty of occasions he can catch with his hands. His only issue is with timing his jumps. Samuel does exceptionally well with using his hands. On the first (top) play above, watch as Curtis Samuel backpedals and extends out his arms on a catch outside his frame. In this instance, he does time his jump well so that he has a better opportunity of catching, but what I want to point out is how Samuel catches using his hands. This wasn't a body catch. It was a pure good hands catch and nothing more. Keeping himself in-bounds with his feet (don't worry; he was ruled in), Samuel makes an incredible catch to convert a third down. On the second play following, Samuel juggles and manages to catch the ball outside his frame. Not satisfied at just that, Samuel stays aware of what's going on the field, slides off a defender, and extends himself for the first down. Full blown effort in everything he does. During Panther OTAs, plenty of Panther beat writers had good reviews of Samuel's ability to catch outside his frame. I don't think it's as big of an issue as some make it out to be more-so than his ability to time his catch. Max Henson of Panthers.com gives his observation below: Samuel can catch using his hands and outside his body when need be. He just needs to learn to time some of his jumps a bit better on a few throws. Curtis Samuel is a very reliable receiver. His ability to catch in any clutch situation and through brutal contact makes him a fine weapon to use. Curtis Samuel - A Rough, Physical Monster Once upon a time, there was a 3rd round pick by the name of Steve Smith Sr. Beginning as a short, small punt returner, Smitty put a chip on his shoulder every week, elevating his game to legend status. A sure Hall-Of-Famer, Steve Smith is one of the Panther's best wide receivers to wear 89 and is known as one of the most physical, dominant, and aggressive WRs to play the game. Curtis Samuel will never be Steve Smith. No one can emulate the chip Smitty had his whole career of being told he's "too short" and "not able to dominate." However, if there is anything you can compare Samuel and Smitty to, it's their aggressiveness and ability to play the game. Tony Alford - OSU's runningback's coach - has plenty to say on Curtis Samuel's aggressiveness: Meyer - OSU's head coach - remembers fondly the first time he saw Samuel had that "it" factor in him on his first day of practice: @Jeremy Igo - CarolinaHuddle founder & Panthers photographer/media observer - made a very interesting comparison when watching Samuel's game: As we all know, Igo does not usually make that comparison lightly. What he saw in practice was a replica of the aura Smitty once gave on the field; an aura of dominance, intimidation, and power. Curtis Samuel is a very physical blocker who's not afraid of letting it out against anyone. He will put forth his best effort at keeping defenders out of plays and showing them who's daddy. His head coach saw it first hand during Samuel's first ever practice, and it showed on his film as well. On this play, watch as Samuel obliterates the defender across from him. The defender didn't even have a chance to gather his feet as Samuel man-handled and threw the poor guy around like a rag doll. Utterly defeated, the defender lops on the ground in defeat as Curtis Samuel helped pave the way with his massive block. Just the presence of Curtis Samuel on the field can be intimidating for defenses. His physicality is a trait defenders grow weary of. Samuel puts in full effort in everything he does, and he's not afraid of getting aggressive about it. On the play above, watch as Curtis Samuel meets a defender bigger in frame than he is and push him hard and aside. He puts enough force to render the defender useless in this play and shoves him towards the sidelines. The strain and effort he puts in these blocks is very encouraging to see. He's aggressive in whatever role he has on the field. One of Curtis Samuel's defining traits is his stiff arm. He brings out a nasty strike to pull defenders down or out of his way. Not many are able to handle and avoid his aggressive shove. On the play above, watch as Curtis uses his strong arm to push down a very heavy defensive lineman as if he were nothing. Completely shutting him down and shoving him to the ground, Samuel displays dominance and releases away for a solid gain. Very few receivers display the aggressiveness Samuel puts forth on the field everyday. Curtis Samuel is a very aggressive player. Wherever he is on the field, he puts on a blue collar and gives every play 100%. He'll be giving defensive backs fits in the near future, and may turn out to have a bit of his own version of "Smitty" in him. Curtis Samuel - The Speedy Runningback As if Curtis Samuel the receiver isn't amazing enough, Samuel the runningback is just as deadly. When Curtis Samuel's in the backfield, he looks every part the role of a runningback. From his ability to run between tackles, run in space, his vision, his speed, and his physicality, Samuel's just as much of a threat in the backfield as he is a slot receiver. During his Junior year at OSU, Samuel averaged 7.9 yards per rush, ranking fifth among players with at least 80 carries in the country. He rushed 97 times for 771 yards and eight touchdowns, which is third on the team in each category. That's a lot of production as a runner. Curtis Samuel has very good vision when running with the ball. He's able to react to what the defense gives him and improvise from there. On the play above, watch what Samuel does on a decent short gain. Text and extras have been added to further explain the action going on. Samuel reads the play, realizing the hole he originally was supposed to go through cave in fast. He reverts to another open lane and heads upfield through there. He tucks in the ball as soon as he realizes contact is about to come upon him. A lot of things going on in one play showing the intelligence and vision Samuel has. When running, Samuel does display some of that patience and explosion I love seeing. Like McCaffrey, Samuel will pace himself and look for a lane, then cuts and explodes right through it. On the play above, Samuel slightly waits and paces himself and notices a huge gap forming. He cuts inside and runs through it immediately. While not as jerky and insane like McCaffrey, Samuel instead shows fluidity and smoothness in his style of running. Curtis Samuel can read blocks and assess the defense like any other runningback. Another thing he can do is run between the tackles and gain yards after contact. He'll find an open lane and run right through the middle. In the play shown above, watch as Samuel cuts through out of shotgun through an open lane between the tackles. He has a whole host of defenders ready to greet him but manages to gain a good bit of yardage through contact. Curtis Samuel's a pretty good runningback if I do say so myself. One thing Samuel's amazing at is getting out of unfavorable situations. He will cut, jump, pause, and burst out of any dilemmas and turn them into positives through a circus of insane acts. On the play above, Curtis Samuel brings out his inner Cam Newton and makes magic out of nothing. He stops, cuts, and turns around, stops, sends a blocker in front of him, steps back, speeds up, runs, cuts, and staggers across to set up a perfect 4th and 1 situation OSU desperately needed. When nothing was there, Samuel created something. However, Samuel's true bread and butter is his ability to run through space. OSU ran a lot out of shotgun and put Samuel in situations to run in open space through broken plays. The next play occurring two plays after the one shown above proves it. On the game winner against Michigan in OT, Samuel runs through another one of OSU's signature plays. Using his speed to outrun defenders and get to the edge, Samuel bursts through an open lane and runs right into the endzone. Samuel ends up winning the game for OSU single-handedly. When Curtis Samuel enters space, he will find a way to make a big play out of it. Whether it's from the slot or as a runningback, Samuel is deadly in space. On the play above, Curtis Samuel shows off his ability to cut and speed right through defenders in space. Much like a potential punt return or kick return play, Samuel finds a way to slither through defenders and take advantage of the space given to him. The result is a very big play with Samuel speeding far down the field. Speaking of speed, Curtis Samuel is deadly on sweeps. He turns on the jets and bursts through the edges at maximum speed, leaving stragglers far behind. On the play shown above, Samuel motions out of the slot to the backfield (expect to see a lot of these kinds of plays with CMC and Samuel). With that, he gets handed the ball off the shotgun formation where he turns on the jets. Running full speed on the sideline, Samuel hits his ultimate gear and outruns every defender on the field. The result of the play was a touchdown. If there's anything I'm concerned about, it's the Panthers ignoring the potential Samuel brings as a runner. @Jeremy Igo made a very concerning observation during OTAs I hope doesn't spell out a limitation to what Samuel's going to do for the offense: If Samuel is not used at least part time as a runningback on some plays, that's a whole lot of potential wasted right there. Sure, Curtis is an amazing slot receiver and he should focus on that more than his ability as a runningback. However, they should not ignore the potential Samuel has from the backfield. Shula has to incorporate ways to get Samuel to run on some plays even when a majority of Samuel's snaps come from the slot. As a runningback, Curtis Samuel makes plays. Whether it's through space, between the tackles, or using his speed, Samuel finds a way to make an impact. His vision and running ability are top-notch, making him a very deadly weapon out of the backfield. Conclusion Curtis Samuel is a bonafide play-maker. His ability to play as a slot receiver, deep threat, or as a runningback makes him a swiss army knife the Panthers have to learn to use. He can line up anywhere on the field and make an impact. Samuel is essentially a Cotchery/Ginn upgrade rolled up into one player with how refined his route running in the slot is along with his speed. His play-making ability and skill to move the chains will be of great use for Cam Newton and the Panthers going forward. However, what's most intriguing is the mismatches the Panthers can create with Samuel and other tools they have at hand. I went over some of that potential in CMC's thread before, but the options are endless as to what this offense can do. Just think about this for a moment: QB/RB Cam Newton TE/WR Greg Olsen RB/WR Christian McCaffrey WR/RB Curtis Samuel Power RB Jonathan Stewart Big-Body Possession Receiver Kelvin Benjamin These guys make up the core of the Panthers offense. All diverse and deadly weapons in their own way and how to use them. Teams can no longer just "contain Cam double Olsen blitz on 3rd down" with all these weapons on the field. A mismatch could be present on every play if everyone is used to their maximum potential. Curtis Samuel is a play-maker. He's a steal in the 2nd round with the potential and ability he brings. He will make an immediate impact on the Panthers, and he should be a nice addition for Cam Newton. The potential for this Panthers offense is frightening. It's now up to Shula to use Curtis Samuel and everyone else to their utmost. **If you want to dig deeper, I made a 40+ GIF thread of Curtis Samuel on twitter. Click the twitter link below and look at the replies to see Samuel's film and my comments**
  6. The Panthers went off to a pretty bad start, finding themselves on the wrong end of a double digit lead pretty fast. The run defense was spectacular, the pass not so much. So, to dissect just what happened, I take a look at every Titan's passing attempt on their first two drives. Play 1 - 1st and 10. 15:00 remaining. Panthers in man coverage with base defense to start off. Mariota throws a picture perfect pass to receiver who was covered very tightly by Worley. On the play above, there was nothing the Panthers coverage could've done. Worley was all over his man in a perfect position to wrap and take him out of the play. Mariota just made an even better pass and play to his receiver. Nothing to blame our defense on here. Play 2 - Titans 1st and 10. 14:21 remaining. Panthers defense still in base defense. Mariota takes the snap and jumps off around the defense for a first down. Again, nothing much you could've asked for our defense there. Edges simply aren't athletic enough to keep up with a scrambling Mariota. More blame goes on the personnel called on the field against this type of offense. Play 3 - 1st and 10. 12:55 remaining Panthers in base defense against a spread Tennessee look. Playcall cover 2. Mariota connects with his receiver for an easy reception. This play here goes on our coverage rather than our defenders. Once again, the Panthers are running base defense. Although it is preseason and Luke's not in, that doesn't excuse the fact that running base defense against this style offense isn't going to work out. One thing I will knock on Worley is not gaining enough depth on this play. Otherwise, really tough to stop. The Titans simply just spread and find themselves an opening in our coverage. Can't do much defensively in that personnel. Play 4 - 1st and 10. 12:29 remaining. Panthers still in base defense. Tennessee opts to dumpoff to RB for a small gain. Good job by the Panthers for sniffing out the RB and stopping him while they can. Could work on harder tackling, but good nevertheless. Play 5 - 2nd and 8. 11:51 remaining. In case you didn't get the memo, Panthers are STILL in base defense. Considering it's preseason, it likely doesn't mean much, but still this is pretty much why we've been getting killed. Mariota on the rollout and throws to his designed outlet for a first down. Once again, our defensive personnel simply can't keep up. Wilks calling base defense against a team that will beat you with these style plays. Titans O having their way against us. Play 6 - 3rd and 14. 9:42 remaining. Panthers in base defense in zone against the Titans on a 3rd and long situation. Bradberry - being the beast he is - knocks the ball away like the man he is. Bradberry da GOAT. Ballhawk shutdown monster. Watch out NFL. Forces Titans to a field goal. Play 7 - 2nd and 9. 8:38 remaining (after fumble or whatever turnover happened) Mariota on a designed play against Panthers base defense once again. Throws out of bounds. A designed play for Tennessee that didn't work out. Mariota throws out of bounds when he notices the play was sniffed out immediately. Play 8 - 3rd and 9. 8:33 remaining. Panthers in base defense showing zone against the Titans. Mariota to Henry for the dumpoff and nice gain underneath the coverage. Derrick Henry shows yet again his potential as Tennessee's runningback of the future. Lots of potential in the kid. Nothing much Panthers could've done in this situation. Play 9 - 3rd and goal. 5:48 remaining. Panthers in the endzone against the Titans offense. Mariota throws an easy TD pass to wide open receiver. For those of you who want to blame Worley, guarding Walker was not his original assignment. Worley playing two trap, meaning he jumps on flat routes that develop & Walker not on his "to guard" list. Adams was Walkers assignment. Essentially, this was a pure mismatch of Adams vs Walker and Adams proved to be too slow on the play. Easy touchdown. Conclusion Mainly the issues were with the playcalling and our offense giving their offense plenty of easy chances in their first few opening drives. I don't expect us to be in base defense when the regular season comes, and you can be sure our pass rush will be a lot better. Worley was fine. Didn't see much that was on him, and he was absolutely not at fault on the Walker touchdown. So, thoughts?
  7. Christian McCaffrey. The All-Purpose Play-maker. Captivating the CFB world with his play, McCaffrey stormed the field with style. Breaking Barry Sanders All-Purpose yards record and becoming Associated Press college football Player of the Year, CMC looks like a promising future elite runningback in the NFL. McCaffrey blew up the NFL combine. His 4.22-second 20-Shuttle was the 14th best performance since 2012, and his 6.57-second 3-Cone was tops during the same span. The Panthers selected Christian McCaffrey 8th overall in the 2017 NFL draft. He would be the second running-back taken overall in his class. Hoping for a new spark for a stagnant Carolina offense, the Panthers drafted McCaffrey with one purpose in mind: to rejuvenate, replenish, and restart this offense into a new era. In fact, Mike Shula studied McCaffrey months prior to the draft to get a full grasp of the potential a player like him brings. The Panthers drafted McCaffrey knowing the potential he brings for their offense. However, questions remain. What exactly does CMC bring to the table? Will he fit well with Cam Newton? How does the Panthers offense change going forward? These three questions are simple, yet complex. To begin, it's seems rather appropriate to dissect who CMC is as a player first. Christian McCaffrey - An NFL Ready Play-maker Christian McCaffrey is a special player. At Stanford, McCaffrey got exposure to NFL-style pass plays, diverse running sets, and protection schemes. He played a variety of roles, ranging from runningback, wide receiver, and punt returner. He excelled in each area. Critics argue Christian McCaffrey took advantage of a good o-line and scheme in Stanford and won't produce at an NFL level. They don't believe he'll be productive. While Stanford's line is well known for being aggressive at the line of scrimmage, McCaffrey only made them even better. The details of his ability to increase their level of play will come later, but for now understand McCaffrey's vision and patience helped a lot. McCaffrey was one of the nation's most productive players. Even when faced with odds against him, he still was one of the nation's best backs. He is one of just 12 running backs since 2000 to run for at least 3,500 yards and have over 1,000 receiving yards in a career. Among players on that list, McCaffrey leads everyone in both yards per carry (6.2) and yards per reception (12.1) for their respective careers. When you look at McCaffrey's collegiate career, he faced every defensive front imaginable. McCaffrey posted 5.86 Yards Created per attempt when facing eight or more defenders on 64% of his carries. That's about 0.4 more yards than Fournette (67% of carries) and nearly 1.7 more yards than McNichols (57% of carries). McCaffrey has been one of the most productive backs against defenses that have their game plans focused against him. McCaffrey had a large workload being the focal point of a Stanford offensive attack. McCaffrey accounted for 59.9% of Stanford's offensive touches and is considered one of the most used players in college football. Many argue he won't be able to handle the rigors of the NFL. Stanford disagrees. Christian McCaffrey's body is built to withstand the rigors of a large workload. So, yeah, if anyone can handle the physical toll that comes with touching the football 39 times a game, it's McCaffrey. He should be able to handle any amount of touches given in the NFL. A patient runner with an elusive style, McCaffrey makes mature decisions. He gets strong depth to the line of scrimmage to press creases on zone runs and he can string together stutter steps, dips, jump cuts, and jukes to reach the hole. He reads penetration well and reacts appropriately to earn what he can when the defense foils the scheme. What stands out is his patience. McCaffrey reads what's playing out on the field to determine the best course of action. He shows no hesitation when he determines an optimal path and explodes through the lane. On the play above, notice how McCaffrey paces himself with his stride. He reads and scans the o-line and the defense. When the hole develops, notice how fast McCaffrey converts to a "sitting position" and cuts right through the hole for a 10 yard gain. Not many runningbacks are able to pull this feat off. Le'Veon Bell is an example of a runningback who could. Bell is known for being one of the most patient backs in the league and uses techniques like the play shown above to maximize that. With McCaffrey's patience, decision-making, and explosiveness in his cuts, it's not hard to see why he resembles such a talented runningback. Some critics say McCaffrey isn't a between the tackles runner. The origin of this claim is unknown, but it simply isn't true. McCaffrey excels at reading between the tackles and exploding for a good gain. Saying otherwise is fake news. In the play above, watch as McCaffrey paces, cuts, and explodes right through the tackles for a huge gain. Reading his o-line, McCaffrey finds the perfect opportunity to burst through and navigate himself through defenders for a big gain. To further expand on this topic, check out how his inside running compares with others from his class: Carolina Panther GM Dave Gettleman compares McCaffrey to a HoF runningback when talking of his between the tackle running ability. Gettleman is a top-tier scout at identifying talent, as noted by plenty of his "diamond-in-the-rough" FA pickups and late draft fliers, so he knows what he's talking about. That's high praise for any runningback to be compared with the Hall of Famer. In the play above, McCaffrey displays his patience and inside running ability. Stuttering and pacing himself, he waits for a lane to develop and explodes right between the tackles. Then, he eludes defenders using a variety of cuts, power, and quick moves to achieve first down. McCaffrey possesses an elusive nature that resembles LeSean McCoy. Able to quickly dart through defenders and elude tackles, McCaffrey gains a large chunk of yards he otherwise wouldn't have gotten. His patience, elusive style, and vision allow him to gain the same amount of yards as any power back in the NFL - if not more. What stands out in McCaffrey's tape are his instincts and feel for the game. He acknowledges the role of each member of his o-line and directs his run accordingly. In the play above, notice how McCaffrey cuts and darts when one of his o-line members come tumbling in for a major block. His instincts take over and allow him to maximize the help his guard provided. The result is a good gain as he eludes and avoids defenders. When McCaffrey hits the open field, he's hard to bring down. McCaffrey possesses breakaway speed - a key trait not all runningbacks can boast - allowing him to outrun any defender on the field and achieve a touchdown. In the play above, watch as McCaffrey runs through a lane and cuts. He jukes the linebacker near him and gets him to act as his own "pick" by blocking the two defensive backs behind him. With no one else to threaten his path, McCaffrey bursts through and hits high gear. The result is a clear touchdown, with CMC leaving defenders in the dust. Christian McCaffrey is a runningback with promising fundamentals. He should have no problems with becoming a major threat in the run game. His running style will allow him to thrive with the Panthers and dominate the league. Christian McCaffrey - Pass Protector In the NFL, pass protection is more important than ever. With the league transitioning to producing more pass-oriented offenses, protecting the QB has become top priority in ensuring success. Runningbacks are no exception to this new norm. For runningbacks, pass protection can mean the difference between sitting on the bench or seeing a lot of playing time. Their ability to block, pick up blitzes, and prevent their QB from toppling over is all the more crucial in today's league. Christian McCaffrey is often knocked as a guy who won't produce at the next level due to his size. Being 5'11" 202lbs, he doesn't appear to be that big on paper. To top it all off, he only completed 10 reps on the bench press at the combine. When these facts are taken at face-value, McCaffrey appears to be a rather weak guy. With NFL defenders breaking 300lbs and moving around like monsters, it seems like a hopeless case for McCaffrey. However, context brings about a logical answer to these issues. Particularly about Stanford's weight program. Christian McCaffrey didn't do well on the bench press because their strength coach rarely utilized it. Tailoring to each of his player's physical needs, Stanford felt the bench press was a useless exercise that does not provide any benefits to the game of football. Bench pressing is not the end all be all of strength. Strength comes in many forms and ways of use. Christian McCaffrey is very strong and muscular where it counts. Pass protecting should not be a problem for him based on what he's shown. Although he needs to stop putting his head down and out with some of his blocks, McCaffrey has shown enough enough refined technique as a blocker that he should develop into a solid pass protector within the course of his rookie year. He gets proper depth into the line of scrimmage to meet with blitzing defenders and shoots his arms for a quick punch. I apologize for the low quality GIF, but the point remains. McCaffrey displays picture perfect technique when drawing an assignment against a Washington defensive tackle. Putting himself in that sitting position, McCaffrey awaits for the defender's arrival. He rolls his hips and pushes the defender upwards and upright, nullifying any impact he has on the field. Technique is imperative when determining whether a runningback will be good in pass protection or not. If they show they have a grasp of the fundamentals at the collegiate level, the likability it translates to the NFL is high. McCaffrey flashes that potential enough times to the point it wouldn't be surprising to see him be decent by his rookie year. In the above play, McCaffrey picks up a blitz off the edge. He slows down the pursuit just enough to allow his QB to have a few extra seconds to throw the football. The defender does gain some leverage, but McCaffrey redirects his path away from the QB. Effort is necessary when determining a runningback's effectiveness in pass protection. If the runningback shows he's willing and giving 100%, chances are that will only benefit the offense even more. Christian McCaffrey shows the effort and technique necessary to translate into a fine pass protector at the next level. With Jonathan Stewart - the NFL's best pass blocking RB - mentoring him, he'll be just fine. Christian McCaffrey - The Elite Slot WR A runningback and wide-receiver rolled in one. Very rarely do elite runningbacks also turn out to be elite receivers. In the NFL, you're either one or the other. While some runningbacks can become receiving threats, none are going to run the whole route tree and constantly beat defenders with elite WR moves. Christian McCaffrey may look to change that. If McCaffrey were to enter the 2017 NFL Draft as just a pure slot receiver, he would've been one of the first off the board. During his combine and pro day, Christian McCaffrey impressed everyone with his route-running and flawless receiving. McCaffrey is a reliable option who tracks the ball well and has the athletic ability to present mismatches from the backfield, the slot, and on the perimeter. Once in the open field, McCaffrey strings together moves that can turn a short play into a breakaway run. In the play above, McCaffrey acts as a quick checkdown option for his QB. When the ball gets in his hands, he begins making magic on the field. Spinning away from one defender, then brushing aside another, McCaffrey achieves a first down on what should've been a short gain. McCaffrey working the slot is always a sight to see. When given space down the middle, he can and will outrun any defender straight to the endzone. He uses a variety of footwork techniques and moves to beat defenders regularly. In the play above, notice McCaffrey exploiting a mismatch option. He uses his footwork and quickness to run down the middle and straight to the endzone. Pitting McCaffrey against any linebacker is an immediate mismatch, and McCaffrey takes full advantage. One of McCaffrey's strengths is his route-running. Coaches had nothing but positive comments on his route-running during Stanford's Pro Day. Some went as far as to say he looked like a 5 year NFL veteran. In the play above, watch McCaffrey as he runs his route. He comes out with a double move by dropping his hips and turning his head with urgency. It appears natural and well-thought out, baiting the defender into thinking it would be a short route. McCaffrey explodes and continues on with his route. Although the QB threw way off the mark, McCaffrey made himself wide open in what would've been a sure touchdown. Not many NFL runningbacks can run routes and pull moves like these. Christian McCaffrey can. He has elite potential both as a receiver and a runningback. That's a scary thought for any defensive coordinator in the NFL. Christian McCaffrey - A Fit For Carolina A question that always comes up when considering drafting a player. Is he a fit? It's a valid question. If the player drafted is incompatible with the scheme/players of said team, he won't perform to his utmost potential. Sacrifices would have to be made in order for the player to function at a decent level. Critics out there say Christian McCaffrey is a terrible fit for the Panthers. They assume the Panthers run a pure power run game that will not enable McCaffrey to shine. They argue Cam Newton will hinder McCaffrey's true potential due to his high velocity passes. Well, I can assure that they've got it wrong. When you watch McCaffrey, you'll notice he comes from a diverse pro-style offensive scheme that allowed him to get a taste of any NFL style offense he'd be thrown in. Whether it's zone based, power based, shotgun, or downhill, McCaffrey has been through it all. When looking at strengths, McCaffrey finds the better part of his success from the shotgun. In shotgun or pistol sets, McCaffrey created a robust 5.74 yards per attempt versus 5.66 yards on carries with the quarterback under center. This indicates McCaffrey is productive in any system given, but more-so with shotgun. During 2016, the Panthers ran from the shotgun on 76% of snaps, fourth most in the NFL. Deeper evaluation shows that the Panthers perform best under shotgun: The Panthers run a very balanced run game in terms of I-formation VS shotgun. Christian McCaffrey's statistics show he'll easily adapt to this versatile scheme. However, notice how Cam Newton rarely goes under center in pass attempts. If McCaffrey were a downhill runner, defenses would expect him to be running when Cam Newton's under center. However, with success in a variety of schemes - especially shotgun - teams can't guess as easy on whether a play is a run or a pass. Scheme-wise, Christian McCaffrey should fit right in. His ability to play in Carolina's zone-based shotgun offense allows him to be a major threat. Some argue that Cam Newton's inaccuracy and high-velocity throws will not enable CMC to be used much. They assume all Cam's throws will dart right over his head and be worthless in the short passing game. First thing I want to point out is that I think Cam Newton's one of the better passers in the league. I posted a write-up on this topic that crumbles a lot of past narratives that anyone reading can look at, but for now I'll just point a few things out. Cam Newton is the 4th most accurate QB on all throws that go beyond five yards, trailing Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. His inaccuracy is a myth developed by an unreliable completion percentage statistic, which favors the short passers. Cam Newton threw less than five yards on 32.43% of his throws; the least amount in the NFL. In comparison, Sam Bradford threw fewer than five yards on 62.13% of his throws. Bradford boasts having the best completion percentage of 2016, while Cam Newton was dead last. See the trend? Some will point to Cam Newton's accuracy numbers on the short throws as the reason the Panthers go deep so often. Cam Newton's 89.83 percent on throws behind the line of scrimmage (24th in the league) and 67.86 percent in the 1-5 yard range (32nd in the league) all appear as if Cam Newton's an inaccurate passer in that area. While it is true Cam's not going to be a top 5 passer in the 0-5 yard range, he is not as bad as statistics make him out to be. When studying Carolina's receivers, it's a miracle that Cam Newton even had some short passing opportunities: Without any true receiver that can play in the short passing game, Shula and Cam were handicapped. Forced to draw up deep passing plays to compensate for lack of talent, Cam Newton suffered. With checkdowns rarely forming with collapsing pockets and short options being unreliable, it was a pitiful sight. Take this play for example. A well-designed play, followed by a picture perfect throw, Fozzy had no reason to drop that ball. This should've been a good gain of a decent bit of yards after a perfectly thrown pass. However, Fozzy proved himself inadequate and unreliable in this instance, along with many other examples. Enter in Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey is a very quick player who releases well at the line of scrimmage. His footwork allows him to cut cleanly and efficiently in order to get open at a rapid rate. He's an effective weapon in the short passing game. In the play above, watch how McCaffrey keeps his eyes on the QB to assess how he's going. Patiently waiting at one spot for a few as plan A of being a checkdown, he reads that the QB wants him to cut across the middle as an option. The result? McCaffrey provides a clean catch and gains a good chunk of yards. Cam Newton needs a guy who can play like this. When Cam Newton has receivers like McCaffrey that can actually work the short passing game, it's only logical to conclude his short accuracy will get better. While his high-velocity passes may not die down soon, Cam will finally have reliable options that he's never had before. That should only positively impact his short accuracy percentage. Simply put, Cam Newton can throw in the short range, but he's never had a real shot due to his receiving core. Now with McCaffrey and other WRs who can release quickly at the LoS and get open, Cam Newton should be able to target them efficiently and effectively. Christian McCaffrey is a perfect fit for a Panthers team that needs a player like him. Complimenting J-Stew in the run game and adding his own style, McCaffrey should find himself the focal point of a Panthers offensive nightmare in the near future. Christian McCaffrey - The Highlight Of A Panthers Offensive Juggernaut Christian McCaffrey is flexible in how he can be used. Whether it's in the run game, passing game, or punt returner, McCaffrey has a whole arsenal of ways he can be used as a weapon. The mere presence of where he is on the field can present mismatch options like never seen before. The Panthers know what they're getting when they got McCaffrey. Lance Taylor - Stanford's RB Coach turned Panther WR Coach - knows what McCaffrey brings to the table and advocated for him coming to Carolina. Perhaps that is why the Panthers were confident in their answer to how they'll use him: At Stanford, McCaffrey was used everywhere on the field. Whether on the outside, slot, runningback, or returner, McCaffrey turned himself into an absolute all-purpose weapon. For the Panthers, expect that trend to continue but with an added flair. When looking for mismatch opportunities, you have to understand what Christian McCaffrey is good at. His footwork is quick and precise, his running style patient and elusive, and his route-running crisp and clean. One thing he exploited a lot at Stanford was mismatch options against linebackers. For example, Take this drawn up play from PFF: Here, Sam Monson creates a very likely scenario and a formation we might see. Olsen exploits a potential mismatch going against a SS while we bunch 3 WRs together on the other side. McCaffrey is in the play and adds a whole new wrinkle in the formation. With McCaffrey in the line-up, that LB is going to have to follow him wherever he goes. McCaffrey is a mismatch even when he's in the backfield. As seen in the play above, McCaffrey exploits a one on one opportunity with the linebacker coming out of the backfield, gaining a huge chunk of yards. However, the Panthers could elect to motion McCaffrey near Olsen or in the slot, drawing the linebacker out for an even bigger mismatch opportunity. When McCaffrey works against linebackers, watch how fast he moves his feet and gets himself open. The linebacker simply isn't able to keep up with Christian McCaffrey's speed, loses the battle, and allows McCaffrey to go off for a touchdown. With the type of play formation shown above, McCaffery proves to be a deadly weapon no matter how you slice it. Another possibility includes this play brought up by Fahey on twitter. Falcons elect to bring six personnel against this Panthers formation: Now imagine the backfield is Newton and McCaffrey. The Falcons can't go five in the box against Cam Newton because that's simply asking for a beatdown, and six allows McCaffrey to exploit a big mismatch opportunity. There's a whole lot of ways the Panthers can exploit this scenario. The Panthers could run option off the DE. That would likely end up in a scenario where a first down is achieved. The Panthers could pull a guard to lead the way, toss the ball outside to CMC, send him in a route against these linebackers, or simply let Cam be Cam. Anyway you slice it, the Panthers have a lot of options on one simple play to get a first down. McCaffrey's presence only makes defenses even more worried than normal. Knowing he could run out of the backfield or come in for a route gives the defense a lot to account for. Another way to use McCaffrey is in two runningback sets. Take the following formation for example: Imagine the backfield being Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Christian McCaffrey. Curtis Samuel is working the slot, Olsen on top perimeter, and Kelvin Benjamin on bottom. A whole host of mismatch opportunities have presented themselves on this play. The Panthers could run with Stewart, bring Samuel in for a sweep, run play, or working the slot with his speed, let Cam take over, run with McCaffrey, or let him leak out of the play-action on as seen below: The mismatch potential of the Panthers offense is monstrous. They could even replace Stewart with Samuel to add to the chaos, and place Russell Shepard in the slot. So many ways for the Panthers to foil defenses. McCaffrey's presence allows mismatches to be created. Defenses just won't be able to keep up. Bleacher Report made a very nice article on how the Panthers could use weapons like McCaffrey (and Samuel) to become one of the deadliest option offenses in the NFL. Here's a sample of something that could be drawn up: Christian McCaffrey impacts the Panthers by being the offensive match-up nightmare he is. With elite potential both as a crisp route-runner and a talented runningback allows him to be one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL. The Panthers have the potential to be deadly with a guy like Christian McCaffrey on the team. It's now up to Mike Shula to draw up plenty of plays that will take the league by storm. Conclusion Christian McCaffrey is a special player. His skillset as a runningback is similar in style to LeSean McCoy, and his vision to Le'Veon Bell. With his ability to read defenses and elude defenders, McCaffrey should have no trouble transitioning to an NFL offense like the Panthers. His versatility allows him to be used all over the field. Whether it be runningback, wide-receiver, or in the punt return game, McCaffrey is a weapon that the Panthers can't wait to get on the field. With his experience in a variety of pro-style offenses and formations at Stanford, McCaffrey should have no trouble transitioning to the Panthers power-based zone scheme. Whether he runs from shotgun or I-formation, McCaffrey will succeed. Wherever McCaffrey is on the field, he creates mismatch opportunities due to the "unknown" aspect of what he is going to do. Defenses will have to scramble and guess whether McCaffrey's running, leaking out, or running a route, and that's no easy task. The Panthers brought in McCaffrey to add a spark in their offense. Cam Newton has never had a guy who is both reliable and quick in the passing game until CMC came along. Now able to add plenty of option flairs and short options, expect Cam Newton's accuracy to seemingly get "better" as he doesn't have to be the play-maker all the time. Christian McCaffrey is a special athlete. His impact on the Panthers will be immediate. Cam Newton will no longer have to be the guy doing everything. Christian McCaffrey takes a huge load off of Cam's back, and allows our offense to shine. Expect great things from the kid this upcoming season. **If you want to dig deeper, I made a 50+ GIF thread of McCaffrey on twitter. Click the twitter link below and look at the replies to see CMC's film and my comments**
  8. One highly anticipated training camp battle happens to be against our kickers; Graham Gano and Harrison Butker. The healthy competition should only encourage each kicker to get better and earn their spot on the roster. Harrison Butker wastes no time getting ready. A rookie drafted in the 7th round, Butker comes out as one of college's better kickers, completely dominating other kickers in the NFL combine. The Panthers hope this guy could be the answer after a very disappointing season from NFL veteran kicker Graham Gano. At his training facility, Butker works out and posts himself kicking long balls, showing off his accuracy while at it. In the clip above, watch as Butker nails a 50 yarder as if it were routine. The calm demeanor and manner after which he kicked shows a kicker who is very comfortable with kicks like these. Using his powerful leg, he nails in the ball between the yellow posts. In the next clip seen above, watch as Butker nails a 55 yarder, once again calmly walking off as if it were routine. Poised and strong, he attacks the ball viciously and with care, ensuring its destination between the two yellow pegs. In the clip above, watch as Butker nails a 61 yarder. With confidence and dare, Butker vigorously attacks the ball, using every ounce of strength and knowledge he has up to this point. With solid technique and leg strength, he nails the ball, celebrating by throwing both his arms up in the air. Finally, Butker shows off an exercise he uses to fine-tune his accuracy. By hitting from the side, he works the ball's angle between the two posts. Not very easy to do for any normal kicker, yet Butker makes it look like clockwork. Don't sleep on Harrison Butker. He was drafted for a reason, and he could very well unseat Gano from his job with the Panthers.
  9. Well you can tell I'm bored this off-season. After just completing my CMC write-up, I went straight to watching five of Curtis Samuel's games in full. For those of you interested, I made a 40+ GIF twitter thread on Curtis Samuel spanning five regular college season games. Each contains clips and thoughts that meet the twitter text limit. I made a Curtis Samuel analysis thread a while back (though not as detailed as it could be) so I'll probably hold off on that unless you guys really want me to try and make a whole new one. Anyhow, here's the beginning of said twitter thread: For those of you who are unfamiliar with how this works, you click the twitter link and look at the reply chain that comes along with it. Basically, click anywhere on that white box, go to that new page that pops up, and scroll up and down as you please. Here's some nice samples of what I saw: Just to let you know so you can look at something else during this long and tedious off-season. Just three weeks until training camp...
  10. For those of you interested, I made a 50+ GIF twitter thread on Christian McCaffrey spanning 8 regular college season games. Each contains clips and thoughts that meet the twitter text limit. Don't worry. I still plan on making a full-on Christian McCaffrey impact thread later, but I felt that having a foundation of miscellaneous film will help you have a better understanding of who he is as a player. Here it is: This is the beginning of said thread. For those of you who are unfamiliar with how this works, you click the twitter link and look at the reply chain that comes along with it. Here's some nice samples of what I saw: Just thought I'd let you know so you can have something to look forward to during this long and tedious off-season.
  11. ________________ READ THIS FIRST: Before you go any further, I recommend everyone read these two articles first. The first link goes over Cam Newton's 2016 season in great detail - moreso than I could - and is a piece I've been anticipating for weeks. The second one is Cian Fahey's analysis on how dated the NFL's universal measurement of "accuracy" is, and his defense for Cam Newton. Give both of these websites a click and a read. It's worth your time. Spread it through your twitter account and whatever resources you have. https://brickwallblitz.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/why-cam-newton-was-still-a-great-quarterback-in-2016/ http://presnapreads.com/2017/06/28/cam-newton-is-as-inaccurate-as-steph-curry/ As I said, read those before going through what I write below. Most of it is just touching and rehashing some points made in these articles. A sampler of sorts. The full meat is in these articles. Think of the following as a "free sample" of what these go over. Trust me, they're worth it. _________________ The Panthers 2016 season was not the best. Ending with a 6-10 record, they did not perform to their potential. From injuries, missed opportunities, to questionable coaching, everything meshed together for one disappointing year. On paper, Cam Newton performed horribly. After all, a league-worst 52.9% completion percentage is just plain bad. People commonly cite that Cam Newton puts too much zip on his passes and overthrows everyone without context. But was Cam Newton really as bad as everyone says? Does completion percentage define how good of a passer he is? In this write-up, I will be using Kinsley's and Fahey's articles as the basis of my defense of Cam Newton. Note that there's a lot more content if you actually click the links, but the following will give basics and teasers from these sources. The Issue With Completion Percentage The phrase "numbers don't lie" is very common. After all, statistics generally provide an objective view on any subject matter. Completion Percentage is a statistic derived from a system used by many media outlets to determine accuracy based upon the amount of times a QB completes a pass to his wide receiver. However, the current completion percentage system is flawed. As Fahey explains, In this case, the numbers do lie. Bradford was able to have such an inflated completion percentage due to his amount of short throws. On the opposite spectrum, Newton was dead last in short throw percentage. In a way, it's comparable to Steph Curry VS DeAndre Jordan. Fahey explains that here: Jordan shot more inside the three point arch than outside, while Stephen Curry shoots more three pointers outside the arch. Everyone will point to Stephen Curry as a better shooter due to having a higher success rate when it came to three pointers, even when his overall accuracy may be less than normal. Committing to difficult shots more than the easy ones in comparison to everyone else will alter anyone's stats. So, why isn't Cam Newton throwing more short passes? Is it by his own choice, or the system? Matt Harmon of NFL.com answers that question. When analyzing the Panthers offense, he discovered something very crucial context-wise Mike Shula's system revolves around the deep pass and hard-to-hit style plays. Cam Newton was asked to play at an MVP-level on every single play, putting all the workload on himself. That amount of responsibility is hard on any QB, and Cam Newton realizes that: Cam Newton shouldn't have to make every play, and Mike Shula shouldn't encourage that mindset. However, that was the system ran in 2016. Make Cam do all the heavy-lifting and try to make things work. That is why completion percentage is such a terrible stat when it comes to accuracy, Without context, you're never going to be able to determine the true accuracy of any player. As much as people want to make completion percentage "as empirical as possible," it's simply not possible due to the many variables that affect such a complex statistic. In reality, you want to account for as many variables as you can that can logically explain a quarterback's accuracy, That involves looking at the receiver's actions in response to a ball thrown and a set of standards to determine whether it's the QB at fault or receiver. That also includes context, such as scheme, short passes vs deep passes, and play-calling. Fahey explains just what he does as part of determining accuracy: When you add Fahey's numbers, this is the result of what happens to Cam's completion percentage: A pretty huge jump, wouldn't you say? Accounts for a lot more variables as well, which leads to a much more critical, logical, and accurate answer. Completion percentage is good to use as a base for determining a QB's accuracy, but not as an end-all. Without context, it's basically just throwing up numbers that simply don't tell the whole story. Without adjusting for circumstances, receivers, and scheme, completion percentage is a very stale measurement when determining how accurate a quarterback is. Cian Fahey goes over this issue in depth in his article: http://presnapreads.com/2017/06/28/cam-newton-is-as-inaccurate-as-steph-curry/ Cam Newton is a prime example of how this system of completion percentage goes against him. How Panthers Wide-Outs Hindered Cam Newton Make no mistake. The Panthers wide-receivers in 2016 were terrible. Cian Fahey sums up the issue here: Kinsley expands on Fahey's thoughts: Carolina's wide receivers played a big role in Cam Newton's season. With Kelvin Benjamin coming back for the season, everyone thought that would elevate the Panthers to one of the league's offensive juggernauts. In reality, he played just as bad as everyone else. Kelvin Benjamin was pretty bad for a large majority of the season. Much of his yards came from an over-inflation of targets. However, his issues can be traced back to his ACL injury that he suffered. Kelvin wasn't expected to be back fully healthy until 2017 according to Matsko, and he suffered through some issues with that for a majority of the season. Anyways, that's beside the point. Putting excuses aside, Kelvin Benjamin was plain bad in 2016. Jonathan Kinsley goes over one of many plays where Kelvin faltered: Although Kinsley likely lacked data concerning the nature of Benjamin's health for the season, he does make a good point. Kelvin Benjamin didn't perform like a 6'5 monster for most of the season. Kinsley goes over Benjamin and a whole host of other Panther receivers and examples in his article. The Panthers receivers were also some of the worst when it came to gaining separation. Matt Harmon - creator of Reception Perception and NextGen Stats - explains it in detail here: Without receivers who can separate and make life easier for Cam on a consistent basis, it's no wonder Cam's numbers didn't look good last year. With an o-line consisting of 4th stringers and practice squad players, Cam Newton's life was extremely hard. Some argue Cam Newton doesn't go for the checkdown often, but how can you do that when your receivers and o-line basically make such impossible? Cian Fahey explained why Carolina's receivers were no fit for the short game: When I asked Kinsley during a Q&A session via twitter whether he believed Cam Newton should've checked down more, he replied with this: From a guy who watched every throw from Cam Newton's 2016 season, I'd say I'd trust his analysis there. Cam Newton's o-line pretty much didn't allow for him to checkdown or consistently allow him to throw to outlet receivers. Not only that, but Cam's outlet receivers usually involved Tolbert or Fozzy. It's well known throwing it to Tolbert is like throwing it to a defender, but Fozzy shouldn't be free of any blame either. Scott Leedy - Panther critic/fan/analyst - did a twitter thread on Cam's 2016 season. One thing that popped out was how bad Fozzy was consistently as a "3rd down back." He was very 50/50 at catching the passes he needed to catch. He was unreliable as a checkdown receiver who will catch the ball consistently. It's fair to assume Cam didn't trust his checkdowns due to the fact they aren't reliable. Cam's WRs in 2016 were bad. Underrated Parts of Cam's 2016 Season Even with all the gloom surrounding Cam and his supporting cast, he still did an amazing job for the little he had. Cam Newton is actually one of the more accurate passers in the NFL when you consider context. People cite his mechanics as a reason why he can't be this way, but Kinsley explains it in a different light: The fact is Newton's mechanics don't matter; he's still deadly accurate in his own way. Cam Newton plays at a high level despite his "sloppy mechanics," so it really shouldn't be a debate. Kinsley goes over plenty more plays like that. Phillip Rivers doesn't have good mechanics either, but he's still considered an elite quarterback. Even with how old Rivers is, he's still playing at a high level. Cam Newton's the same way. Cam Newton's accuracy is very underrated. Although his accuracy behind the LoS and 0-5 range seems low (mainly due to receiver quality and low number of attempts), his accuracy everywhere else is really good. Take Cian Fahey's numbers here: Top 4 in the league in accuracy 5+ yards down the field in a season like 2016 says a lot. He's able to consistently hit the ball on the dime, and make unreal throws that would make anyone's jaw drop. Take this throw I cataloged a while back. Cam Newton throws right on the dime through a very tight window. An inaccurate quarterback wouldn't be able to make this kind of throw, but Cam Newton does it on a consistent basis. Cam Newton deals with the pocket better than most quarterbacks. Here's Kinsley touching on a bit of that: Cam Newton had to consistently adjust in his pocket to complete a pass. With his o-line (lol Remmers) being a catastrophe, Cam often had to have a good awareness of what's going on around him to avoid getting sacked. Matt Waldman describes Newton's great ability to do so in the below in his Rookie-Scouting Portfolio. Waldman uses Newton as the prime standard for what an NFL QB's pocket presence should look like: Cam Newton still was a top-tier QB in 2016. Despite the naysayers trying to downgrade his season, his film shows a QB who did as much as he could with the circumstances he was given. As I said, if you want to dig even deeper, Kinsley has a whole lot more information I'm sure you'll enjoy in his article: https://brickwallblitz.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/why-cam-newton-was-still-a-great-quarterback-in-2016/ So, What Now? Matt Harmon recommended a cure for the Panther's offense back in January. By acquiring Russell Shepard in free agency, along with Curtis Samuel and Christian McCaffrey, it appears almost as if they took the advice Harmon recommended. These wide-receivers can all separate, are reliable, and can act as checkdown/slot receivers that Cam Newton missed sorely in 2016. Kinsley showed excitement with the way the Panthers went in 2016 during the NFL draft in his thoughts below: Cian Fahey also expressed admiration: With guys who can release at the line of scrimmage and be playmakers anywhere on the field, the Panthers offense should only get better. Not only can they finally incorporate more short passes, they can add a whole variety of plays to their book. Bleacher Report recently made an article on the potential of the Panthers offense. With so many hybrid players, the Panthers could literally implement the league's most complex and scary offense just based on option football. Here's a part of it: Along with a lot of other examples, the Panthers can implement so many scary playcalls with the versatility of everyone. Panthers now have reliability, playmaking, and crazy stuff for Newton, which should only elevate him at this point in his career. Cam Newton won't have to be the one making all the plays anymore. He has playmakers all around him, and he realizes that: Cam Newton's 2016 season was very underrated. He had many things that worked against him. However, with the addition of new weapons, health, and playcalling, it stands to reason he'll only get better next season.
  12. Matt Kalil. Former Vikings LT. Brother of Ryan Kalil. We all hype up Matt Kalil, hoping he'll be the savior of our LT situation. After years of Byron Bell and Mike Remmers playing blindside, it's time we put in hope we'll finally find a solution to having a full-time protector for Cam Newton. A former pro-bowler, Matt Kalil is our last hope. So, being the film-obsessed guru I am, I looked through a few clips of Matt Kalil in my spare time, trying to find some positives out of his game. After all, he couldn'e be that bad after a pro-bowl rookie season, right? Sadly, I don't see much that's got me excited. In fact, I'm honestly worried about Cam's health. Watching Matt Kalil's film makes me miss Remmers. And that's not a good thing. What stands out is Matt Kalil's lack of explosiveness. He didn't seem comfortable moving around a lot and matching speed with some of the NFL's more athletic pass rushers. Take this for example: Doesn't explode off the snap as fast and scoot over in time to meet with pass rusher. Result? Free lane to ram himself right into the Vikings QB. Not explosive in getting to the pass rusher and stopping him. In another play, we see Matt Kalil unable to stop a pass rusher executing a simple move on him. Chief pass rusher uses his hands to jab and rip right through Matt Kalil with little resistance. Result is Vikings QB on the ground. In another play, Matt Kalil's lack of explosiveness continues to show as he takes a bad angle on a 49er Defensive End. Matt Kalil is unable to handle the 49er and lets him through. The result is Teddy Bridgewater being forced to run for his life as both Kalil and the Vikings LG show their ineptitude. Finally, we get to see exactly how Cam Newton is going to get IR'd this season. No words. None. I've never been so depressed after looking through someone's film history, but Matt Kalil scares me. Sure, what I've shown on here is just a small sample, but this was consistent in Matt Kalil's game. There's a reason many Viking fans point to Matt Kalil being the reason their o-line sucked. So, Is There Any Hope? Film wise, no. He does show good intelligence and technique, but his lack of explosiveness and action make up the majority of his plays. Left me wondering whether keeping Remmers and putting him at left tackle would've been any better. However, Matt Kalil has been a pro-bowler before, so it's not like he can't be good. And when you realize he's been playing through an injury for most of his career, it's fair to wonder if that's why he was less explosive. Take a look: http://blackandbluereview.com/quotes-note-matt-ryan-kalil/ Matt Kalil In here, Matt Kalil insinuates part of his regression was due to the incompetent talent surrounding him. He mentions that all the changes going on with the Vikings hindered his potential. He also takes some of the blame on him, knowing he is better than what his past few seasons have shown. However, I want you to pay attention to the last part. "...being 100 percent healthy and feeling the best I've felt in a while." So, it's apparent that something has hindered Matt Kalil in the past injury-wise. Yet, he claims that's all in the past now. How so, and what was the cause? This is significant. He mentions having a labrum tear in his right hip that progressed since college. Explains Kalil's lack of explosiveness and athleticism with dealing with NFL pass rushers. So, what kind of surgery did he go through, and what was wrong with the hip? Matt Kalil says the surgery he went through wasn't difficult at all. It went completely well, leaving him feeling great. Sounds like it was a regressive issue that was treatable rather than an injury that could come back. He says he feels quite great now. Not only that, Kalil feels like he's in his best shape since college. That right there should be very comforting. If he truly feels good, it's just a matter of realigning technique to his newfound physical burst to finally put the pieces together for a turnaround season. This is certainly achievable, and this explains his lack of explosiveness. If he's fully healthy (knowing modern medicine, it's very likely he is), he may actually be worth the money. So, how will he build up his technique? He notices we have talent when it comes to position coaches, and believes Matsko is one of the best. He has dreams and hopes of being able to finally burst that shell he's surrounded by, and achieve greatness. He believes Matsko will be just the guy to get him on track. If Matsko is able to turn Oher into a great LT, he could get Kalil right back on track. With Andrew Norwell right next to him, Matt Kalil may finally have the talent surrounding him to take the next step. So, what does Ryan Kalil think about Matt Kalil turning around his season? Ryan Kalil What I like is that Ryan Kalil attempts to be objective in this situation. Everyone knows he's Matt Kalil's brother, and everyone knows he obviously wanted Matt Kalil to come on the Panthers. Even so, Ryan Kalil deviates his opinion to originate from another source: Gettleman. He makes known that Gettleman saw the potential in Matt Kalil. Likely understanding the situation concerning Matt Kalil's hip injury and speedy recovery, Gettleman feels Matt Kalil will finally have the physical traits to achieve what he wow'd the NFL with in his rookie season. Ryan Kalil talks of Gettleman's credibility as a scout, and how Gettleman sees that Matt Kalil has more potential out of anyone in this FA class. What this also verifies is the question "why even go so hard for him?" Gettleman went for Kalil because he knows he'll be back. He acknowledges his hip is healing up, and the Vikings also figured that out. High figures and numbers were thrown because of such, but Gettleman persisted. Ryan Kalil doesn't let his opinion get in the way. He lets the opinion of the guy who looks at film for a living speak for itself. So, what's Kalil's opinion of Matt Kalil's injury? Turns that into quite the humorous joke. Gotta love that. I'm putting a lot of hope on Matt Kalil. While I do have low expectations, I do expect him to improve to at least Mike Remmer's level at first. He still has a lot of years left ahead of him, and he does show the technique and mindset of a top-tier NFL tackle. I think this surgery impacted Kalil in a positive way, and I can see him being more athletic and explosive more than he once was. If all plays out, we may have found our answer. Although I can't provide any film to hype you guys up in that regard, I can tell you the steps Kalil's taking to turn his career around. Whether it works out or not remains to be seen, but I do feel it's only going to prove beneficial for Matt Kalil in the long-term. Don't get your hopes up on Matt Kalil. But don't think he's a lost case either.
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