Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Sunday, August 24, 2008 6:49 pm

Panthers 47, Redskins 3

Filed under: Panthers — Lex @ 6:49 pm
Tags: , ,

I only watched long enough to see the score get to 41-0. And that was enough: Wow.

That’s my first reaction. My second reaction had to do not with the Panthers, but with the Redskins: Both of their lines have major, major problems, and to the Redskin D-line add the problem of depth. That does not bode well for their season. The figure 6-8 comes to mind, and that record will leave you out of the playoffs by four games in the NFC East.

The Panthers’ O-line, on the other hand, looks very good, a dramatic improvement from last year. And between Jonathan Stewart, who has impressed as a rookie, and DeAngelo Williams, who showed flashes late last year and has only come on since, the Panthers might just run the ball all day, all season. This would not be a bad thing; for one thing, it’ll help keep Jake Delhomme healthy.

On the other side of the ball, everyone keeps saying Julius Peppers is back. He’s certainly looking better than last year, which is, for the moment, making me look stupid for having said they should release him. Let’s hope this roll continues into the regular season. Deep into the regular season. And then into the playoffs. He’s in a contract year, so he’s got everything to play for. The rest of the D-line looked good as well.

Elsewhere on the offense, Steve Smith’s most dramatic moment came on the first play from scrimmage, where he landed hard on this shoulder and left the game. This team won’t be entirely one-dimensional without him, and with that backfield, third-and-long won’t be the occasion of desperation it was last year, but for this team to play into January, Smith has to stay functional. He’s already had a concussion this season, and a separated shoulder would be misery. Muhammad is out, although he should return for the season opener. D.J. Hackett, who will have to carry the load while Smith sits out his two-game suspension, hasn’t shown much in practice (he sat out last night). And TE Dante Rosario is looking like an upgrade on Jeff King, who, with 47 catches last season to rank second on the team, wasn’t that bad to begin with.

The linebacking corps looked solid, and in Ken Lucas and Chris Gamble, the team has one of the league’s best corner tandems. Chris Harris continues to come on at safety (but also sat last night). And the special teams looked very good as well — four field goals, one from 52 yards; repeated kickoffs into the end zone (short kickoffs were a problem last year) and excellent coverage on those that got run back.

Injuries, or lack thereof, will be key. Knock wood, the Panthers haven’t lost anyone key for the season, which is a departure from recent preseasons. One big key to their Super Bowl season in ’03 was that the O-line played the same people in the same positions almost every game (and had Stephen Davis in the backfield).

Snoop says he’s “excited” about the Panthers’ chances this year. I won’t go quite that far, but then I never do. I will say that the team had glaring weaknesses at the end of last year, and with one exception — the jury is still out on backup QB, so let’s hope we don’t have to find out about that — the team appears to have addressed them all.

The final preseason game is meaningless for the starters; it’s mainly for the coaching staff to decide whom to keep for special teams, whom to keep for the practice squad and whom to cut outright. The opener at SD will be a strong test, particularly without Smith. That game should show us what we’ve got.

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1 Comment

  1. Yeah, well I’m pumped. Just to get back to football again. Whoo-ee!

    Comment by Gerald — Monday, August 25, 2008 4:09 pm @ 4:09 pm


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