Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Review: What We Learned
Well, that didn’t go as planned. The Carolina Panthers were supposed to march into Tampa Bay and easily dismantle a bad defense on Sunday, but instead found a way to dismantle themselves.
We have to give a ton of credit to the Buccaneers, however, as their formerly suspect run defense showed up in the biggest way in week one, and made one of the league’s best ground attacks look completely inept. On top of showing your beloved Panthers who was boss in the first week of the 2012 season, they also took away the win, 16-10.
It was a narrow win, but still one the Panthers let slip through their fingers. We learned a lot from this one. Let’s dive into it:
1. Run Game Shutdown
The Panthers had a difficult running the ball in week one. And that’s putting it unbelievably lightly. Perhaps missing Jonathan Stewart due to an ankle injury had something to do with it. Maybe the Buccaneers having a healthy Gerald McCoy in the middle completely changed their attitude. Whatever the case, Cam Newton was held to just four rushing yards on five tries, while starting running back DeAngelo Williams managed -1 yard on six attempts. Carolina tallied 10 total rushing yards as a team, which is just embarrassing. However, the toughest thing is they only ran the ball seven times with their running backs. I get that it wasn’t working how they had planned, but they clearly gave up on the run pretty early.
2. Cam Newton is Can’t Newton
For week one is is, anyways. Newton finished with 303 yards and completed a solid 69% of his passes, but he took three sacks and threw two interceptions. He was arguably forced into some tough situations due to no help from the ground game, but as you read above, he really didn’t help in the team’s effort in that department, either. This just wasn’t Newton’s (on the Panthers’) day, as Tampa Bay really had an answer for their every move. Newton needs to avoid pressure better and not make silly throws. In his second season, he needs to start avoiding turnovers and find ways to lead his team, even when a facet of the offense is performing as badly as it possibly can.
3. Doug Martin’s Debut
While the Panthers struggled horribly to move the ball on the ground, Tampa Bay didn’t have nearly as hard of a time against Carolina’s still soft run defense. It still took Martin 23 totes to get to 95 yards, but that’s a decent four yards per carry, while he looked pretty good doing it. He even added 23 yards through the air off of four receptions. Clearly the Buccaneers found their running game in this one, and it was arguably the difference in the game.
4. A Healthy Return
You could say “many” healthy returns, as Thomas Davis also appeared in this contest and racked up three tackles, but I was beyond impressed with Jon Beason. Both Beason and Davis have returned from devastating injuries, but Beason looks to be about in top form already, as he registered 10 tackles in this one. Doug Martin running through the line probably helped him get to that number, but he was still getting a lot of stops.
5. A Look at the Defense
Speaking of Davis and Beason, I think we need to look at the good in this game, which was clearly Carolina’s defense performing better than they usually did in 2012. They are far from elite still, but they really did a good job of limiting big plays all day and just contained the Buccaneers. Turnovers and bad field position worked against them for much of this game, but they still only allowed 16 points. The biggest thing here was only allowing the one touchdown, while they really stiffened once the Buccaneers got anywhere close to the red-zone. I still see a lot of promise in this unit. If the offense can run the ball even at an average rate and Newton can take care of the football, I think we’ll see much better results.