In a repeat of last year's matchup, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Carolina Panthers, with both defenses showing strong performances.
No. 1 Russell Wilson Is Sneaky Good
I bet you didn’t realize until after the game how well Russell Wilson played. Here’s his stat line: 25-33/320 yards/1 touchdown/0 interceptions.
If you watched the majority of the game you wouldn’t have thought that Wilson had that many yards. And the touchdown pass was pretty incredible itself. He put it where only Jermaine Kearse could catch it and that was all that mattered.
Wilson was rushed and hit numerous times in both the first and second half and still managed to put together a game where everyone was grinding it out. He also made sure to spread the ball around, finding six receivers who totaled 30 yards or more.
While fantasy players won’t be happy with him finding multiple receivers, Pete Carroll has to be pleased with the performance from his second year signal caller.
No. 2 The Panthers Front Seven Are Legit…
Throughout the preseason the Panthers showed vast improvement along the defensive line. That type of play continued on Sunday. With Pro Bowl running back Marshawn Lynch leading the way for Seattle in rushing, the Panthers limited him to only 43 yards on 17 carries.
Overall the Panthers only allowed 70 rushing yards to all of Seattle’s rushers. Not only did they make the opposing run game ineffective, they also had Russell Wilson on his heels throughout the day having to find receivers while on the run and in traffic.
Wilson was able to make some spectacular plays, including the ridiculous throw and grab by Doug Baldwin, but the Panthers have to be encouraged by what they saw from their defensive line. This was one of the bright spots of the day for the Panthers.
No. 3 …Their Secondary Is Not.
You can be sure that E.J. Manuel and Stevie Johnson are looking forward to the opportunity to play Carolina at home next weekend. While the Panthers' secondary looked a little better than last year, there still seemed to be a lot of confusion among them.
And when they weren’t confused they were getting beat down the field by their man. But it is also to Seattle’s credit that they were able to pick up so many yards in the air. Russell Wilson will likely be able to pick up yardage through the air each week, but the Panthers' secondary certainly made it easier than it should have been.
No. 4 Cam Newton Is Better Than He Was Last Year.
It’s just too bad that his supporting cast isn’t. It’s easy for me to get on my soapbox about Cam Newton’s haters so I’ll try and avoid it.
But I continue to be amazed at how many people think he is overrated and can’t lead a winning team. On the first drive of the game, he made play after play, although for short yardage, but managed to move the ball down the field.
If you didn’t see him throw the ball, make sure you watch it next week. His release and the zip on the ball are much quicker than in previous years.
Bottom line, when the Panthers address the problems that need to be fixed next week there won’t be much conversation about what Newton needs to fix. Improve, yes, but fix, no. What does need fixing are the players on the other end of the play.
Time after time, Newton’s receivers dropped passes on what would have been first downs and plays that would have advanced the ball well up the field. This has to be frustrating for Newton. Not only has he improved on the field, some of his postgame comments sound like he has improved in the locker room as a leader.
In his postgame interview Newton made sure that DeAngelo Williams wasn’t blamed for the loss, but also made no excuses for the inconsistent play of the offense and some of the careless penalties by the Panthers. Newton was upbeat and told the media that it wasn’t time to panic and was confident that the Panthers would see the Seahawks again later this year in the playoffs.
It is past time for upper management to get Newton some consistent support on the offensive side of the ball. Steve Smith will be double covered until the Panthers show that they have other options. It’s amazing in itself that Newton was able to connect with Smith on the Panthers' only touchdown, as Smith was drawing attention from more than one defender.
Greg Olsen should be able to be one of the other reliable options, but he was very inconsistent yesterday, dropping passes that should have been caught. DeAngelo Williams can be the man for the Panthers when it comes to running the ball, but it is inexcusable for him to fumble the football, especially in crunch time. If the Panthers don’t give Newton some help, and soon, he will be looking to go elsewhere when his contract runs out.
No. 5 Discipline, Or The Lack Of, Will Come Back To Bight You.
Discipline on the field cannot be emphasized enough. The Panthers shot themselves in the foot on numerous plays and it came back to hurt them. It doesn’t matter what is going on before or after a play, you can’t throw a punch at another player.
As evidenced yesterday, it will get you thrown out of the game and will put your team in a compromising field position. You also have to know the rules. I’m sure by now Armond Smith knows all of the rules concerning leaving and returning to the field on kickoffs, courtesy of Steve Smith’s verbal beat down after the former was flagged for running out of bounds on punt coverage.
These are the “small things” that coaches talk about and yesterday the Panthers showed why those things are so important to get right.