Football is baaaaaccckkkk! You know what? Shouts to football and the NFL for finally being back. We literally spend every single day of the offseason wishing it was on and to have it finally back and actually count is a good feeling.
As good as it is for football to be back, there aren’t many worse feelings for a fan base than to watch your team catch a L in week one. That’s perilous shit right there. Very few teams in the league can recover from a 0-2 hole in the NFL and recover in time to make the playoffs. To my math, there have only been 14 teams since 1991 that have accomplished such a feat. So when you go 0-1 after the first game, your season is pretty much on the line that next Sunday. Scary stuff.
Fortunately for Panthers fans, we don’t have to worry about that! Carolina took care of business out west and blew the 49ers out in a game that was never close. There were some fans that remained cautiously optimistic heading into the game, but we can just chalk that up to the unknown and first game paranoia as a fan. Any sane person new how big of a difference there was in talent and it showed.
Here are my five biggest takeways from the game yesterday:
The Defense is stout — This has been a pretty common occurrence for Carolina for the past several years. The talent on this side of the ball is undeniable. Luke Kuechly is easily the best linebacker in football and a top 3 defensive player in general, KK short and Star are monsters on the interior line and there is a stable of ageless talented vets (Thomas Davis, Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, etc) and a crop of young up and coming stars (Shaq Thompson, Vernon Butler, James Bradberry, etc) that round out the unit. When healthy, this unit has the ability to be the top defense in football.
Cam Newton was rusty — This was to be expected somewhat. The guy only threw two passes during the preseason, but there were definitely throws he missed in that first half that he should have made. Fortunately for him, he got into more of a rhythm in the second half completing all six of his passes. The schedule early in the season is forgiving so it’s a best case scenario when trying to get back into your groove. Cam will be fine. Perhaps the most encouraging Cam story line that came from the game though was…..
The O-Line didn’t allow a sack — This is HUGE. Cam was absolutely demolished by opposing defenses at times last season and the wear and tear certainly caught up to him by the end of it. Given how long it took for him to rehab and recover, it would benefit both him and the Panthers to keep him as clean as possible going forward. The line did a great job of containing and the staff called a game that allowed Cam to utilize those short throws all game. More of this going forward please. Definitely need Cam healthy to contend.
Carolina will take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at 1:00pm EST