It was a rather lackluster performance by Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton who went 18 of 31 for 175 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also contributed 14 rushing attempts for 35 yards (two of them though were kneel downs at the end of the game).
The numbers would have been better if it was not for a few drops made by wide receivers. One play in particular stands out in the first half when Ted Ginn Jr. was wide open on a deep route thanks to blown coverage by the Jacksonville Jaguars. If he had caught the pass it would have been a sure touchdown but bounced off his hands for an incompletion.
The one thing that the Panthers quarterback will get credit for was the fact that he was able to manufacture a few long drives. The Panthers offense had three drives over 12 plays and produced 13 points off those drives. This was due in large part to Newton’s scrambling and his ability to pick up first downs.
The Panthers coaching staff leaned heavily on Jonathan Stewart who got 18 of the 21 carries by running backs against the Jaguars. He finished the game with only 56 yards and 22 of those yards came on one carry. While the numbers aren’t incredibly impressive, he was effective in giving a level of balance to this offense.
The biggest surprise in this game was the fact that Cameron Artis-Payne didn’t get on the stat sheet. The fifth-round rookie played well in the preseason but didn’t get a chance to carry the ball once against the Jaguars. If Fozzy Whittaker continues to average one yard a carry, I would be surprised if he didn’t start to get more looks.
The Panthers knew they were going to see a drop in production when Kelvin Benjamin went down with his knee injury. They probably didn’t expect it to be this bad. The team’s starting wide receivers, Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown, combined for four receptions for 67 yards on ten targets.
The one thing that really plagued this group, and it did in the preseason, was drops. In addition to the Ginn drop mentioned in the quarterback section, second-round rookie Devin Funchess had a drop on one of his two targets.
The only positive that came from this group’s performance was the play of veteran Jerricho Cotchery. He finished the game with 4 receptions on six targets for 45 yards and the only touchdown reception. Hopefully for the Panthers, recently acquired Kevin Norwood will be caught up to speed by next week to help this offense and provide a much needed boost for this position.
Greg Olsen had a career year last year which earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl. The thought process was that with Benjamin out for the year, the Panthers could lean even more on Olsen in 2015. Well that wasn’t the case against the Jaguars as he was only targeted three times, catching one of them for 11 yards. He actually had a touchdown on the opening drive but that was called back due to offensive pass interference.
If the Panthers wide receivers continue to struggle, the offensive coaching staff will have to figure out a better gameplan to get Olsen more involved during the game.
The Panthers offensive line as a whole did a pretty good job. They for the most part kept Newton upright, giving up only two QB sacks. However, both of those sacks were given up by left tackle Michael Oher.
The left tackle position has been a trouble spot for this organization since Jordan Gross retired and it looked like the problem may have been solved during the preseason. Oher played very well during the preseason, not allowing a single sack. Now the Jaguars were a pretty effective pass rushing team last year finishing sixth in sacks.
This offensive line has a great deal of potential and has the talent to get the job done. The game against the Jaguars falls was not great, but not awful either and that is why they got the grade they did.
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