Panthers Defense May Be A Liability In 2009

By clemsoncannon  |   Monday, August 31, 2009  |  Comments( 0 )

Carolina Panthers
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The third preseason game is generally considered to be the one that most closely resembles a regular season game. The starters play into the 2nd half and give the fans their first real glimpse at what the team will look like when the season commences. The Panthers played their third preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens last night. Their performance in that game does not bode well for this team entering the 2009 season.

The Panthers offense was essentially dominated by the starting Ravens defense in the first half. Jake Delhomme threw for 180 yards but was unable to reach the end zone as the Panthers scored only 3 points in the first half. They gained only 78 yards on the ground with both DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart inactive due to minor injuries. Steve Smith saw his first action of the preseason catching 2 passes for 37 yards. 2nd year pro Kenny Moore was used as the third receiver in place of the still ineffective Dwayne Jarrett as the Panthers continue to search for answers at wide receiver. The team did score 10 points in the 4th quarter long after the starters for both teams had left the game making the game appear to be much closer than it was.

The Panthers defense had few answers for Joe Flacco and the rest of the Ravens offense. Flacco was nearly perfect going 23/28 for 247 yards and a touchdown. He saw little pressure from the Panthers front four and was able to stand in the pocket and pick apart the Carolina secondary like a seasoned veteran. On the few plays when he was pressured he masterfully utilized the screen pass to get out of trouble. The Ravens running backs amassed 123 yards on 28 carries as the Panthers continue to struggle against the run. They simply do not have a suitable replacement for the injured Maake Kemoeatu and will continue to struggle on run defense. Julius Peppers was again a non-factor in the game . He was credited with just one tackle even though he was often lined up one on one against rookie OT Michael Oher. He now has a grand total of 2 tackles in three preseason games which should make you wonder if the Panthers should have tried harder to deal him in the offseason.

Despite opening training camp with 20 returning starters the Panthers look very little like the team that went 12-4 last season. It appears that the defense will continue the trend of poor play that plagued them at the end of last season when they gave up 30 or more points in 5 of the last 7 games. Unless this team has a major turnaround in the next two weeks their history of never having back to back winning seasons will likely continue in 2009.
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