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Brandon

Some analysis about the game, and what really won it for us.

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A lot of times fans like to find a “reason for the win or loss”, as it gives them something to focus on. From time to time these will actually exist. As it pertains to the victory against the Saints on Sunday, the Panthers showed there was no one facet of the team that won them the game. It was a true team victory. From QB to offensive line to the secondary and special teams, every part of the team did their best to put the Panthers in a position to win, and that is a major step forward for this team. Without further ado, here is a positional analysis and how they contributed to the Panthers win on Sunday:

QB- Cam played his heart out. He limited mistakes, completed tough throws on third down and made some impressive runs to help keep the chains moving and keep the defense off balance. The major difference between this week and last was his ability to get the ball to the open man, making much faster decisions than he was against the Bucs.

RB- The return of Stewart played a big role in getting the running game back on track. The added dimension he has on offense is critical in allowing Chudzinski to utilize the full playbook. The real start this week however was DeAngelo. The numbers may not have been huge but several impressive first and second down runs kept us in short yardage situations for most of the day, leading to a very favorable third down conversion ratio. Tolbert shouldn’t be left out either, his blocking was critical in giving Cam the time he needed on third down today.

WR- One of the big stories this week should be the continued maturation of Brandon Lafell as the number two receiver. He has struggled with missed opportunities in the past but the Saints game was not one of them. Lafell repeatedly was able to find holes in the zone or beat man coverage to put a great deal of pressure on the defense and gain chunks of yards at a time. The only concern was the lack of production for receivers outside of Smith and Lafell this week, but with 210yds of rushing it’s not uncommon for the passing game to take a bit of a back seat.

TE/OL- Blocking was a night and day change from the previous week against the Bucs. This is partially due to the Saints defensive line not being quite as capable, as well as the offensive line coming off the ball well and playing their assignments. Silatolu and Kalil dominated the Saints interior linemen from start to finish, really sparking the run game and providing some good lanes for Williams and Stewart to run through. Outside of blocking responsibilities the tight ends were a bit invisible but provided strong edges in the run game for several plays.

DL- The biggest difference between the 2011 and 2012 Panthers team lies here. The interior of the line is finally capable of stopping the run early and providing pressure, the Edwards wall was a force all day. The ends were busy as well, with every single defensive end contributing in a meaningful way today. Outside of Johnson there aren’t any superstars (Alexander is showing some potential however) but in rotation they were able to get after Brees and keep him off balance consistently, which has been they key to beating him in the past. If the DL can keep up this level of play all season long the games will be a lot more manageable.

LB- Played exactly as well as you would expect out of Beason, Davis, Anderson and Kuechly. They had a difficult task in stopping the run, covering receivers and most importantly Graham, but managed to do well for most of the game. Beason and Davis in particular were disruptive all game and really helped out the secondary with their stellar play on passing downs. Kuechly continues to develop and does a good job of playing his responsibilities.

CB- Josh Norman deserves a gold star this week. Played fantastically well in run support and against the pass, tight on coverage all day long against some quality wideouts. There is some real hope for the future if he can continue to play at a high level, as the Panthers will need him desperately over the next few weeks.

S- Godfrey and Nakamura were solid all day long, and Godfrey’s big interception off of a poor Drew Brees pass started the ball rolling in gaining the Panthers some momentum early. 2011 was plagued with missed safety assignments but if this game is anything to go off of, it seems as though the 2012 squad has addressed those issues and has played very consistently so far.

ST- Special teams didn’t make any mistakes but didn’t make any big plays either. However an average special teams unit would be a major upgrade over previous iterations and would be welcomed by Panthers fans. Nortman did a fantastic job of punting, putting enough hang time on the ball to allow coverage to set up, which had been a problem for the Panthers in years passed.

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Ya Nortmans punt set up the Saints in horrible position making them run the ball backed up against the endzone. Our defense did a great job stoppin em n forcing the pick 6.

Horrible decision by Brees. Totally shouldve thrown it away...they wouldnt have converted 3rd even if they completed the pass.

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Quit running 3 WR sets every down. Ran Williams and Stewart up the gut vs only outside....

Ran more stuff than deep routes as the primary read

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When the OLINE is able block and we're able to run, we usually have a chance at winning.

Should we still trade Dwill now??

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The turning point was when McDermott stopped calling a soft D every play. Be aggressive and things happen like a pick 6 - which really sparked the whole team.

I never understood playing so soft at the beginning - if you are gonna get burned, better for it to happen early while you have time to make adjustments.

The D should punch the opposition in the mouth from the very first play - set the tone early. Luckily McDermott (or maybe Chico) made that change early enough in the game to slow Breeze down.

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There was one, almost, turning point in this game that I feel like isn't being discussed. Steve had broken open downfield I think verse Patrick Robinson, if Cam puts the ball on the money it's a repeat of his first touchdown to Smitty, however it was a very bad throw and was almost intercepted. Cam played a great game, but that was almost a fatal flaw.

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If I had to pick one thing I liked most about this game, it would be the added aggressiveness of our D..... Got really tired of seeing them play soft, let the guys punch em in the mouth.

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I think what really won it for us was scoring 35 points as opposed to the Saints 27.

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Cam underthrew Smith in the 3rd or 4th. That should have been a pick with a lot of open space a huge return was possible, that could have turned around the game for the Saints.

In short, all units played good enough to win, and the major mistakes (Brees pick, the nonpick above) was on the Saints and not us.

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