2012 NFL Preseason: Panthers vs. Jets Recap
The Carolina Panthers traveled to New York to take on the Jets last night on Sunday Night Football, and found a way to come out with a narrow 17-12 victory.
The win means nothing, but it was still nice to see the Panthers’ third stringers hold off some Tim Tebow magic late in the fourth quarter, as Tebow’s final pass flew through the back of the end-zone, preserving a Carolina win.
The defense looked solid overall in this one and did not become the first team to allow a Jets’ touchdown this preseason, which is a win by itself. Here’s a look at some other notes from the game for both teams:
1. Cam Newton Struggled
I thought Newton had a weak first game, but he really showed up in week two, and convinced me he wasn’t heading for a sophomore slump. His performance against the Jets was a little worrisome.
New York is no slouch, but Newton was very inaccurate and was forced out of the pocket a lot in the one. Unlike in 2011, it didn’t lead to big plays or a lot of nice runs. Instead, Newton lost a fumble, took two sacks, and completed just 6-of-15 passes for 60 yards. He did throw a touchdown pass, but this was a pretty weak showing against strong competition. It’s not the step in the right direction I was hoping to see in his third preseason game, but it’s still just the preseason. I’m sure he’ll be fine come week one.
2. Jonathan Stewart Injury
Panther backers got a major scare when Stewart injured his right ankle on Sunday night. He took a low hit, but the injury actually occurred when he caught and twisted his ankle in the turf. He got carted off the field, which was the worst part, but x-rays came back negative. He should be fine, but ankles are sometimes tricky. His status for week one isn’t certain at the moment.
3. The Jets Need Help on Offense
New York has no left tackle. Their ground game is weak. Their number two receiver is a raw, inconsistent rookie. Their quarterbacks are both inaccurate and just under-whelming as a whole. They need to inject something into this offense. Whether it’s a trade or signing a big name like Terrell Owens or Chad Johnson, it really doesn’t matter. They just need to find ways to protect their passers better, run the ball better, and get less predictable on offense. Perhaps the true Tebow package (which we haven’t seen yet) will give them better results, but so far it’s looking bleak for them offensively.
4. Carolina’s Defense Keeps Progressing
I’ve said it every week, but it’s true: rookie linebacker Luke Kuechly is a beast, and rookie defensive end Frank Alexander is a versatile end who could really make an impact in 2012. Kuechly continued to display his dominance as a rook, racking up a whopping 10 total tackles in just three quarters of play. He’s really shaping up to be the stud the Panthers hoped they were drafted in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. Alexander, on the other hand, registered half a sack and continues to get better at putting pressure on the quarterback. He’ll fit into a rotation across from Charles Johnson, at the very worst.
Outside of their rookies, Carolina is looking solid across the board, as well. Thomas Davis looks like he might actually complete a return from three torn acl’s, as he put up a sack in this game and even deflected a pass. He’s not quite 100% yet, but his talent and versatility should have Carolina giving him every chance to make the final roster. I think he does, and as long as he’s healthy, he could still end up being an impact defender for this team.
This is still a fairly young unit, but they’re already looking way better than last year’s group. The fact that they’re allowing field goals and not touchdowns the majority of the time in the preseason is a good omen. It’s not where they want to be, but you can’t knock progress after what we saw on defense last year.
5. Panthers Have Playmakers
If you haven’t already noticed, the Panthers appear to have a litany of options in the passing game this year that could actually consistently make an impact. With a healthy Steve Smith, tight end Greg Olsen and number two receiver Brandon LaFell should be able to roam the field freely, which could mean big seasons for the both of them. In addition, speedy number two tight end Gary Barnidge could also be poised to make some big plays, as evidenced by 43-yard play and a touchdown in the red-zone. Then there was Louis Murphy, who scored a touchdown of his own. When Smith is back with the team and fully healthy, this could be a much more explosive unit than it was in 2011. And that’s just scary for the opposition.