The Carolina Panthers finished off their home opener with a shaky 9-3 win against the Buffalo Bills. Thanks to poor clock management from HC Sean McDermott and an overthrown ball, the Bills found themselves leaving Charlotte with a loss.
While the Panthers advance to 2-0, there’s still plenty of things the team needs to work on. Whether it be protection, execution, or simply getting into a rhythm, the Panthers need to find a sweet spot fast. There is absolutely no excuse for the Panthers offense to not be dominant in the near future with the kind of weapons they have.
Even so, there were still a few positives. While the run game was slow, Cam Newton was sharp. Wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess got the passing game going with their incredible performance. Meanwhile, Panthers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks’ defense absolutely dominated one of the NFL’s top offensive lines and runningbacks.
So, what should Panther fans take away from the game?
Take a look below:
Cam Newton Sharp Despite Constant Pressure
Yes. Cam Newton missed a wide open Christian McCaffrey on the fade. Yes, he also missed a wide open play to Dickson (again) on a play earlier. Even so, Cam was still on point for a large majority of his throws.
On paper, Cam Newton was 20/32 on his throws. However, some of those were throwaways while some were not on him at all. By my count, Cam Newton was responsible for three inaccurate throws all game. Aside those, he’s been money.
Cam missed a couple throws today, but he's made a number of difficult plays in the pocket as well.
Give and take through two games. https://t.co/hsZTkm4FO3
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) September 17, 2017
When the pocket collapsed around him, Cam often showed incredible poise and accuracy despite the troubling circumstances. The Buffalo Bills brought the heat, exposing the Ryan Kalil-less Panthers offensive line. Cam Newton often found himself running and throwing away footballs.
Nevertheless, Cam was great most of the game, commanding the pocket well and throwing strikes. It also helped that Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess showed up, each contributing when Olsen went down.
Sure, Cam Newton should’ve made those easy “lay-ups” on those throws he missed. They understandably could’ve caused the Panthers to lose. However, his outing this week was far better than against the 49ers. Cam’s been more accurate and sharp than not.
That’s an encouraging sign going forward.
LT Matt Kalil (And RT Daryl Williams) Less Than Stellar
After an iffy outing against the 49ers, Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams each turn in a disastrous performance against the Bills.
Against the Bills, Matt Kalil surrendered three sacks and seven pressures. To put it in perspective, the rest of the Panthers offense only surrendered three pressures on their own. Matt Kalil looked every bit as bad as he was in Minnesota.
Jerry Hughes gets his hands off Kalil too easy en route to a sack. pic.twitter.com/ZLg1w0IB1N
— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) September 18, 2017
To add insult to injury, Daryl Williams was also bad, accounting for two sacks in just the first half. He did not have a good game, allowing the defense to harass Cam.
While getting back All Pro C Ryan Kalil will help a lot, it doesn’t help the fact that both tackles are subpar. The Panthers should consider starting Moton at RT, which should only help this offensive line in the future.
Either way, giving up six sacks on the day alongside poor run blocking is not a good thing. The Panthers need to get their protection together and fixed up fast.
Carolina Panthers Defense Is Unbelievably Good
One thing that stands out is the Panthers defensive performance. Going against a talented Buffalo offensive line, the Panthers harassed Bills QB Tyrod Taylor and bottled up RB LeSean McCoy all in one game.
The Panthers corners were relentless, shutting down the Bills aerial attack for nearly all game. The front seven was nasty, allowing only one third down conversion for nearly three quarters. They destroyed the run game and the Bills ability to drive down the field.
Julius Peppers also showed that age is just a number, racking up two sacks on the day. To add on, his run defense was absolutely incredible, contributing to LeSean McCoy’s down day.
— Derek (@DTang0426) September 10, 2017
To put in perspective of what the Panthers defense has done so far, here’s a few interesting stats:
- RB LeSean McCoy ran for 9 yards on 12 carries, averaging 0.75 yards per rush.
- Offenses converted on third down 6 out of 24 times, or one 3rd down conversion for every four third down situation.
- Panthers only allowed six points total in their first two games, the seventh team in NFL history to do so. The last to do it were the 2007 Baltimore Ravens.
- The 2017 Panthers are the first in franchise history to hold teams to three or less points their first two games.
- The Panthers are the only team to not allow a touchdown their first two games in 2017. Last team to do so were the 2010 Baltimore Ravens.
- Only allowed one fourth down conversion out of six the first two games.
- Number 1 defense against the score and YPG, only allowing 196.5 yards the first two games.
That’s just a slice of what the Panthers have shown defensively already.
If this performance keeps up, the sky’s the limit for what the Panthers can do. A nasty pass rush and a stout secondary goes a long way. The Panthers defense has that and more.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.