There is no doubt that the Carolina Panthers need to shore up their long standing problems at receiver through the draft, but until then, the receivers on the Panthers roster must begin to play to their potential. The receivers played well in the first half against Arizona and against the Giants, but they have failed to show up elsewhere. Brandon LaFell and Steve Smith each dropped key passes last game and have had difficulties getting open on third down, continuously turning promising drives into punts, field goals or turnovers.
The Panthers certainly don’t have an elite receiving corps, but they at least have the skill players to support, if at least not burden, a powerful running game. LaFell has emerged over the past two games as a viable possession receiver with the route-running ability to consistently get open on hitches and digs, but his lack of route versatility allows corners to sit on his routes late in games just as the Cardinals did Sunday. Steve Smith, on other hand, simply hasn’t been himself, dropping passes in his gloves and failing to squeeze free for any yards after the catch.
Ted Ginn Jr. has to be the X-factor. Smith doesn’t have the top end speed to stretch defenses anymore, but he at least to has the quickness to get open underneath, kind of like Wes Welker. With this new arrangement, Ginn has to be the guy to use his speed to stretch the defense down the field and clear out routes for Smith, LaFell and Greg Olsen. Ginn’s speed is the only way to prevent the opponents safeties from sitting on underneath routes and watching for the run, which is in turn the only way to get the Panthers offense moving consistently. The Panthers’ receivers must step up in the coming weeks if the Panthers are to succeed, otherwise they will have a very high draft pick. Things should be easier now that Armanti Edwards has been released, and every receiver should see more playing time.