Because I'm out of town this weekend, I've thrown together some articles reviewing Carolina's season thus far and previewing this morning's game.
Luke Kuechly: Looking at the Carolina Panthers first round pick - Cat Scratch Reader
The Carolina Panthers were in desperate need of help at defensive tackle, cornerback, and wide receiver– and yet the front office elected to spurn those ideas in favor of sticking to a BPA approach, best-player-available of course being entirely based on their board, not popular opinion. Four games is too early to evaluate a draft pick, but it's fun to look around the league at the other players who were pegged for the Panthers, and to see if anyone has out-performed Kuechly thus far.
Charles Johnson Finally Makes an Impact; A Very Big Impact - Cat Scratch Reader
After three games Panthers DE Charles Johnson was wearing the collar of zero sacks of the opposing QB, the primary thing he is paid to do. After the fourth game he now leads the team and owns the team record for sacks with 3.5. Let's take a look at all four plays.
Breaking down the data: Panthers vs. Falcons - Cat Scratch Reader
With an incredible effort and game-planning, the Carolina Panthers were able to march into Atlanta and give the 3-0 Falcons a serious run for their money. The read option worked very well, and was responsible for some of the Panthers largest gains on Offense, while the Defensive Line was a force on Sunday, sacking Matt Ryan 7 times. Unlike previous weeks, the Panthers did not need to rely on blitzing to generate pressure on the quarterback.
Inside the Panthers
Rivera said the team is trying out a few options for the hole at middle linebacker should Beason's knee keep him out of Sunday's game. The coach has said previously he doesn't want to move WLB Luke Kuechly to middle, but the rookie will see reps in the middle this week. "You look at what could potentially happen and you say to yourself, is the best thing to keep him static and just move one guy or is it to move guys around? We have to look at that and see how it impacts what we want to do," Rivera said.
Rivera talks defensive line play vs. Seahawks | CharlotteObserver.com
The Panthers will look to rebound when they host the Seahwaks. Coach Ron Rivera want his D-line to continue playing at a high level. The Charlotte Observer's Joe Person reports from practice.
Newton learning, not slumping
"At times you think you've graduated to a different level, but it's still the NFL," Newton said. "If that was the case, you wouldn't see Peyton Manning throw interceptions. You wouldn't see Tom Brady and guys who have played this game for such a long time make mistakes. "Mistakes are going to happen, but the man that makes the most mistakes in this league loses. Or, in our case last week, the man who makes mistakes in critical situations loses."
Nakamura ready for another start
Early on, it was for his interception of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in the end zone. But in the bitter end from the Panthers' perspective, it was for getting beat on a 59-yard pass from Ryan to wide receiver Roddy White that set up the game-winning field goal. "It was just stupid football," Nakamura said Wednesday. "Look at the situation, with them backed up at the 1-yard line. Play deeper. There's only one way they can get downfield that fast, and that's the deep ball. "Unfortunately, I played it the wrong way."
Better on both sides, but not enough
Newton took the shotgun snap and immediately detected a blitz coming with the Falcons playing man coverage, so he located a seam straight up the middle, and ran for 15 yards. Newton ran for a 4-yard touchdown on the next play. "It was man coverage so everybody turned back and was running in man, and Mike (Tolbert) stepped up and took on the blitzer," Chudzinksi said. "It just opened up in front of him. Cam did a good job of seeing that and going and making a play." Overall, it was a productive day for Chudzinski's offense, but it wasn't enough to edge the now 4-0 Falcons. "We had our chances, and that was a game that we could have won. We didn't," Chudzinski said. "But in this league you can't dwell on the past. You make the corrections and move on. We're making progress in some areas, and guys have really worked to correct the mistakes and some of the issues we had earlier. Hopefully that'll continue."
Cam Newton needs a new act - NFC South Blog - ESPN
After watching Cam Newton in his past two games, it occurred to me: I have seen this act before. The incredibly talented Carolina quarterback has been sulking on the sidelines when things don’t go well, waiting nearly an hour to talk to the media after a game and not saying much when he does. Instead of acting like an NFL quarterback, Newton is acting like a child.
NFC South first-quarter grades - NFC South Blog - ESPN
Carolina Panthers: The expectations for the Panthers were high, and that’s why I’m going to be harsh on them. They’re also 1-3, but they have a different vibe than the Bucs. Carolina looks like a team that’s made no progress since last season. Although incredibly talented, the offense has been wildly inconsistent. Although all of last season’s injured guys are back and some new players were added, the defense doesn’t look any better than last season. First-quarter grade: D.
Panthers know odds are against reaching the playoffs if they lose to Seahawks on Sunday | Fox News
You don't need to remind Steve Smith about the importance of beating Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. "It's beyond important — it's essential," Smith said.
Carolina Panthers: Denfensive Line Shows Up in Loss
The most shocking aspect: Carolina’s defensive line was responsible for all seven sacks. Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson led the group with a single-game franchise record 3.5 sacks. Despite the remarkable play from the Panthers’ defensive line, the team would still fall short to the Falcons, 30-28. That’s a difficult loss to swallow considering the Panthers fought tooth and nail on every down last Sunday. "It’s hard when you put so much work in like we did but don’t finish," Jonson said. "It was very disappointing. We did some good things out there."
Media Trying To Turn Panthers’ Woes Into Relentless Season Long Soap Opera " CBS Charlotte
The Panthers are going to be good. Maybe sooner than later, and Newton is the key to how soon they succeed. But to call one loss more devastating than another in the brief career of a 23-year old is pure folly.