While the Cardiac Cats failed to get the win, there is still optimism in Charlotte after the Carolina Panthers loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were a big favorite coming into Sunday, but the Panthers showed that they are no easy out, and that they have the potential to be successful on both offense and defense. Here’s what we learned on Sunday:
More Rumble, Less Boom
We knew there would be changes on offense with Rob Chudzinski going to Cleveland and Mike Shula stepping in, and those changes come with pros and cons. The good news is that Shula’s pared-down offense is more stable and keeps the offense on rhythm. Cam Newton looked calm and confident and avoided turnovers, and the run game kept drives rolling. DeAngelo Williams had a surprisingly good day, but his fumble late in the game was a killer. The bad news is that Carolina is far less explosive than in years past, and failed to generate points. Much of that explosiveness was due to Newton’s free-wheeling style and Chudzinski’s exotic scheme, but the Panthers will still have to score more than seven points to win in the NFC South.
The Magnificent Seven
I had high hopes for the Panthers’ improved front seven coming into the season, and they did not disappoint. The defensive line was impressive, consistently putting pressure on Russell Wilson and stymieing the Seahawk’s vaunted running game. The rookie Star Lotulelei was especially disruptive, and his relentless push was a big reason Marshawn Lynch was held to 43 rushing yards. All three linebackers played outstanding, with Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly standing out. Davis was all over the field, tracking down receivers and backs alike, while Kuechly always seemed to be a step ahead of the offense. Kuechly’s mental skills are just unreal.
The Green Turns to Yellow
The Panthers had a veteran swagger to them today, but two young players made critical mistakes that severely cost the Panthers. Frank Alexander was ejected from the game in the second quarter after receiving a personal foul for pushing Seahawks tackle Breno Giacomini, negating a Charles Godfrey sack. While the Seahawks failed to score due to Charles Johnson‘s sack-fumble, his fresh legs could have been useful late in the game. Armond Smith also got two critical unsportsmanlike penalties on punts, giving the Seahawks great field position. The Panthers will have to shore up these mental errors soon, or this season might be a lot like the last two.