The Good, the Bad, and the Defense
Here's what I'm taking out of the game:
The Good: Special teams can and will give us better field position this season. Dante Hall may even have some return touchdowns. Coverage teams were good, too.
The Bad: If our offense plays like it did in week one, it won't matter where they start on the field. After an 84 yard return, the offense can't go 3 and out and bring out the kicker.
The Good: Excluding the one long TD catch and run, Smith had only 50 more yards on 6 catches. Decent coverage by Hill most of the day.
The Bad: When you do count the big play, Smith had 118 yards receiving and a TD. And that's still what we call a good day for our secondary.
The Good: The defensive line pressured Delhomme for much of the first half.
The Bad:When we brought pressure, Jake could consistently dump the ball off to receivers. On the first drive, his passes gained 2, 11, 6, 11, 6, 6, no gain, and 10 yards...but the Panthers still scored. At some point, we've got to start breaking up even the short passes.
The Good: Brandon Chillar was in on a number of good plays.
The Bad: Pisa Tinoisamoa wasn't getting his name called by the announcers much until he got injured.
The Good: Jackson was picking up good yardage on the opening drive.
The Bad: Jackson gained more yardage on his first carry of the game than he did the whole second half.
The Good: We limited the impact of the running game up the middle.
The Bad: We got gouged for big gains around the end.
The Good: We forced two fumbles on defense.
The Bad: Jackson fumbled twice in the third quarter.
The Good: We entered the half leading 10-7, and we would get the ball at the start of the 2nd half.
The Bad: After the half, our offense never stayed on the field for more than 3 plays until 7:09 remaining in the 4th quarter. And it wasn't because we were putting up quick scores.
Okay, obviously the bad outweighs the good here. That's why we lost. However, there is room for hope. The Panthers are a good team, and we were hanging with them until the offense tanked in the second half. What the defense showed me was that they could keep us in a game. At the half, they'd allowed only one TD. Early in the third quarter, they forced a fumble to give us the ball back in Panthers territory. That could have helped us seal the game. Jackson coughs up the ball. The defense gets the ball back again!
No, our defense can't win games for us. We're not the Ravens or the Bears. But the offense had all the opportunity in the world to win this game. The play-calling was bad. I can see why Linehan wanted taller receivers, though. It seemed like there were several plays where Torry and Isaac were futily trying to reel in jump balls. I could just picture those type of plays being designed for Randy Moss. Unfortunately, if we were using plays designed for our own players, it was hard to tell. Holt had a good first half, but Bruce and McMichael were basically non-factors throughout most of the game. This is one game where nobody is exempt from blame. Bulger had a bad day, Jackson had his fumbles, the offensive line almost started looking like 2003 all over again with Pace gone, we abandoned the run, we didn't adjust to what the Panthers were doing, etc., etc. The good news is it looks fixable. Hopefully, this is our mulligan, and we'll come out ready to play a full game against the *****.