Josh Norman Saves the Day for the Panthers
Panthers fans watching the game can wipe their brow after todayâ€™s narrow victory against the rival Saints. Once again, the Panthers stuck to their motto and kept pounding until the clock ran out.
What can you say about Josh Norman? His spectacular interception to save the game was Odell Beckham-esque. The 27 year old has had two plays decide the game during the Panthersâ€™ 3 game span, the other being the pick-six against the Jaguars in week 1. Norman is one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the league, but that might change if he continues to blanket opponentsâ€™ #1 receivers and make huge plays.
Cam Newton did not hesitate to put his arm to work and take shots down the field. He connected with Greg Olsen for 52 yards and Tedd Ginn for 55. With sure-handed veteran Jerricho Cotchery out with an injury, Newton had to get his less-experienced receivers involved and completed passes to Brenton Bersin and Devin Funchess. I would still like to see Funchess get more involved in the offense and become an end zone threat.
Also, where was Philly Brown? He did not have a single catch the entire game. As the second WR on the depth chart, that is unacceptable.
This was the 27th game Cam Newton has had at least one rushing TD and one passing TD, which is the 2nd most among quarterbacks all-time. Itâ€™s safe to say he will demolish the record by the time his career is over. Newtonâ€™s dynamic running ability gives their offense an extra dimension and keeps opposing defenses on their toes. Without much of a running game and with a poor receiving corps, Cam has singlehandedly put the team on his back.
Olsen is always dependable, but today he had a career high in receiving yards with 134. With other receivers going down with injuries, the offense has had to put more weight on Gregâ€™s shoulders and he has handled it well.
Despite having a perfect record, the Panthers havenâ€™t played perfectly. The Saints had the chance to win the game if McCownâ€™s interception was a foot higher. The Panthers gave the Saints 88 yards by drawing yellow flags and allowed McCown to hoard the clock by eating up yards on short throws. The Panthersâ€™s zone coverage schemes did well to prevent the long ball, but struggled to create 3-and-outs.
Not including a couple runs he broke off for first downs, Jonathan Stewart had a hard time consistently getting yards on the ground. A lot of his runs went for between 0 and 3 yards. The offensive line needs to improve its run blocking and open up more holes for J-Stew. A more intimidating running game would create better opportunities off of play-action.
Next week, the Panther play at Tampa Bay in another important NFC South showdown. The Panthers will be favored, but no win is a given in the NFL. As I wrote last weekend, a 4-0 record would be crucial going into Week 6 where they have a stretch of intimidating matchups. A win against the Bucs is a must, especially seeing as the Falcons are also undefeated and will be fighting hard all season long for a playoff spot.
It is a little concerning that each lower-caliber opponent Carolina has played has had a chance to win the game. Yet, even though Panthers havenâ€™t played perfectly, they have continually found a way to win. As a lifelong fan, I am very happy about where Carolina stands at this point in the season.