Howdy readers and welcome to another installment of 4 th and Inches. In this edition I will discuss the 5 things we can take away from the NFC Divisional Game between San Francisco and Carolina.
5. Carolina’s Pass Rush Was Shut Down by San Francisco
It was a long day defense-wise for Carolina. What didn’t help was that the pass rush from their front four was almost non-existent when it needed to count, especially in the second half. Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson, Carolina’s prized DE’s, were pretty much shut down by San Francisco’s offensive line. The only way Carolina could bring pressure was to bring an outside blitz, but this left holes in the coverage down the middle which Kapernick was quick to find and exploit. Watching such a great defense suddenly self-destruct was very surprising.
4. The Panthers Have a Promising Future
Even though the Panthers went down like a ton of lead balloons, they did show a lot of potential. After having such a great season it seems like the sky is the limit for Carolina. They have a decent QB to build off of and a reasonable schedule ahead in 2014. There is a very bright future for this team, but what we witnessed was just too much inexperience in such a high pressure game. This inexperience showed up early as Carolina started the game acting too cocky and that was followed by what seemed like a million unsportsmanlike conduct and personal foul penalties. Experience and cool heads are everything in the playoffs.
3. A Lack of Run Talent Was Evident for Carolina
I guess you could say the Panthers were stiff in the legs. What does that mean? It means it was quite obvious they could not establish a solid running game. Your starting QB should not have more rushing yards than both of your two starting RB’s combined. Yes, it’s true. Cam Newton had 54 yards rushing, while Mike Tolbert and DeAngelo Williams ran for a combined 33 yards. In this writer’s opinion, the Panthers need to get rid of the aging Williams and injury prone Stewart and build off of Tolbert and Kenjon Barner in the offseason. It would really help the Panthers out as a team if they could produce a solid run game so the pass could become a threat. However, this won’t happen if every receiver keeps dropping catchable passes. The Panthers have a lot of work to do before Training Camp starts up in late July.
2. San Francisco is Officially Back
I think the 49’ers are beginning to show how much they missed WR Michael Crabtree in the regular season, because in the playoffs they have used him more than a pair of old blue jeans. I have to say, I was beginning to wonder if the 49’ers would even make the playoffs. I felt this way not only because of their injury troubles but because of the insane competition in the NFC West with Seattle and Arizona trying their best to get the upper hand in the division. But San Fran’s offense and defense proved itself by shutting down one of the most efficient offenses and by tearing apart the second best defense in the League. After seeing how good San Francisco has done in the playoffs, I am beginning to think they stand a real good chance against division rival Seattle.
1. Cam “Superman” Newton, Not So Super
It seems that people forget that Cam Newton has won Rookie of the Year, broke almost every offensive rookie record that existed, and has the most combined QB pass/rush stats in his first 3 years. I figured at first that Cam would do a great job in the playoffs considering how many high stress situations he has been in. He has had several comeback wins over his pro career, plus in his last year of college he won the Heisman Trophy and a National Championship. Boy was I ever wrong! Cam did a great job in the game until the second half; particularly when he led his team on a drive near the end of the game but threw an interception to 49’ers S Donte Whitner. Cam will learn from this experience and will become a better overall football player with some work in the offseason.
That’ll do it for another edition of 4 th and Inches. This is Austin Paydirt signing off and saying thanks for reading!