The Panthers had quite a few bright spots in Saturday night’s win over the New York Giants, which is a drastic improvement of an abysmal season last year in which the Panthers went 2-14 en route to one of the worst seasons in recent memory for Panthers fans. However, on Saturday night, the Panthers showed the world why this season is likely to be much different from last.
First– and most noticeably– the Panthers have three promising quarterbacks to fall back on. Jimmy Clausen showed poise by bouncing back from an early interception that garnered boos to throw a touchdown a short time later to TE Greg Olsen. Cam Newton, after taking over in the second quarter, then showed why he was the first pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. He made strong throws to both Armanti Edwards and Greg Olsen on a few occasions to engineer two scoring drives, which helped to put the game further out of the reach for the Giants. Derek Anderson came in in the fourth quarter to clean up, and quickly showed fans why he would be a viable mentor for Clausen and Newton by piecing together a drive– in which he didn’t have a single incompletion– that resulted in a touchdown to make the score 20-10 in favor of the Panthers.
The QB battle is far from over for the Panthers, and if things continue the way they have been going, that might not be a bad thing for the Panthers.
The tight-ends also were a bright spot for the Panthers, combining for 83 yards and one touchdown. Greg Olsen had by far the best game out of the two TEs who had receptions, and he did it by leading the Panthers in receiving yards for the night. Olsen had 58 yards on three receptions and quickly made it apparent why the Panthers pursued him in the offseason. Newton and Clausen both used Olsen effectively as a security blanket– and to stretch the field– and made the trade to acquire Olsen for a 2012 third-round pick look like even more of a steal than it already did.
Last, but certainly not least, the Panthers’ special teams looked incredible in the win. Most noticeably, Armanti Edwards brought back memories of Devin Hester in his prime when he jogged to the right sideline, then turned back while avoiding tacklers and sprinted up the left side of the field for a huge gain. Later in the game, Edwards again shook a handful of defenders on his way to yet another nice return. Add in consistent open-field tackling on kickoff and punt coverage, and a blocked field goal attempt, and you have yourself a heck of a night on special teams.
The season is young, and it was only the first preseason game, but this year already looks considerably more promising for the Panthers than the last. With the core of young players the Panthers have to build around this year, they just might surprise a lot of people as we head deeper into the season. Panthers fans? Stay tuned.