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The Panthers defense yesterday was as much the story

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  • The Panthers defense yesterday was as much the story

    Falcons as it was the story of their victory over the Cowboys a week ago. Tevin Coleman became the first back in 22 games to rush for over 100 yards against Carolina. Matt Ryan did his best Cam Newton impression to the tune of 2 touchdowns. Luke Kuechly missed a tackle that allowed Tevin Coleman to rush for 27 yards down the Panthers? sideline Youth Ryan Kalil Jersey , y?all. That isn?t going to happen every day.The optimistic takeaway from yesterday isn?t that the Panthers held Julio Jones to under 300 yards receiving, its that the Falcons won because the Panthers defense had a one in a million fluke game. Its that the offense is still struggling to figure out how to use its best players ? or to best use its players ? and yet they were still a few drive-stalling drops away from taking control of that game.Take a step back and look at the coverage leading up to Sunday. We couldn?t stop talking about the injuries to the Panthers offense. Greg Olsen is missing and freshman offensive coordinator Norv Turner was tasked with making a game plan around an offensive line whose healthy members couldn?t get jobs as stunt doubles if Keanu Reeves decided to remake the Replacements. We aren?t talking about that today because they did a serviceable job. That is phenomenal.Newton threw the ball from clean pockets a few more times (read: even once) than I expected. Christian McCaffrey and CJ Anderson had room to run sometimes. The problem was that the same could be said for Ryan and the Falcons. It would have been nice if the Panthers had recorded even a single sack.The defense seemed a step behind the Falcons on every play that the Falcons didn?t run perfectly. The Falcons ran too many plays perfectly. It was not a combination the Panthers were able to beat ? except that they were. Newton threw one of the most accurate passes I?ve seen in his career on a Hail Mary attempt that would have seen most passers range between bouncing the ball short of the end zone and sending it way out of bounds. Newton?s ball bounced off of DJ Moore?s arm in the middle of three defenders. If you thoughtMoore caught that ball at first then you are not alone.The only time the offense was truly frustrating was when they spent the opening half racking up false start penalties. I?m looking at you, Torrey Smith. Between those penalties and the drops by your teammates, Newton was once again let down by his team. Punch one more game like that and he gets a free, disappointing lunch at Texas Roadhouse.The trick to remember is that Smith is a veteran. He?ll get that under control. The Panthers don?t come nearly as close in their comeback without a few of his catches. Jarius Wright, Anderson Youth Greg Olsen Jersey , and Ian Thomas share as much blame as he does.The Panthers were able to beat the Falcons yesterday, they just didn?t. The combination of things it took the Falcons to pull off that victory is a rare thing and that?s great news for the Panthers in a division where the Bucs may actually be a team again. The Falcons may have won, but they didn?t look like they could have played much better. The Panthers have obvious leaps and bounds they can take.Division games are always crazy and this one took place in week 2. Teams hardly know who they are at this point. All we know is that the Panthers have displayed, at times, a dominant defense and a competent offense. Trent Dilfer won a Super Bowl with only half of that combination. Joe Flacco did too. Do any of you really think Newton is in such a lowly tier as either of those guys? Of course you don?t. Newton?s is averaging more than 65% completions this year. I hear that?s elite.The Panthers have all of the pieces to play meaningful football through January and guys besides that are busy getting healthy to shore up the obvious weaknesses. We know they can play defense. We know Cam Newton is great at more than throwing passes for his receivers to drop. The start of a season is always weird as injuries and realities define the tension between what a team wants to do and what it is capable of doing.For now, the recipe for success in the Carolinas seems pretty simple. Newton needs to keep being himself. Kuechly needs to learn how to tackle. DJ Moore needs to continue his progression from week to week. The Bengals will teach us a lot about the reality of this team and the bye week will come just in time for the Panthers to address that before the rest of the season. Both the Panthers and Falcons enter this game quite banged up http://www.panthersfootballauthentic...rsey-authentic , and each team will have opportunities to capitalize on that. However, these teams still have a lot of their core players, and those guys will need to step up. With that in mind here are your key match ups.James Bradberry vs. Julio JonesIt is really no secret that Jones will be a major factor on Sunday. As one of few wide receivers to ever log 300 yards in one game, he is no stranger to being the focal point of the passing game. This Panthers secondary could end up getting torched once again, however James Bradberry believes in himself. The team drafted him to be a top cover corner, and he is in position to do so. Julio Jones is a tall order ahead of him. If he really wants to follow in the steps of Josh Norman and Xavier Rhodes then this is where it starts.Dontari Poe vs. Alex MackWhile Julio Jones will be a focal point http://www.panthersfootballauthentic...rsey-authentic , the Falcons like to run the football. At this juncture, it is unknown if Devonta Freeman will play, but even if he doesn?t Tevin Coleman is a threat on his own. The Panthers dominated the line of scrimmage against the Cowboys, allowing Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson to attack the rushers and pressure Dak Prescott in the pocket. While Kawann Short and Mario Addison did a bit of the statistical leg work, it starts in the middle with Poe and Mack. This match up can dictate the entire line of scrimmage battle.Taylor Moton vs. Vic Beasley/Takkarist McKinleyThe Panthers? offensive line is in shambles right now. Between Daryl Williams going on IR, Trai Turner going into the concussion protocol http://www.panthersfootballauthentic...rsey-authentic , and Amini Silatolu simply being in the lineup, the Falcons have a plus matchup across the defensive line. This means Moton will likely be on an island no matter what side of the line he plays on, since additional resources will need to be devoted to helping either Silatolu or one of the Panthers? newest tackles. Moton will also be critical in the running game on the edge, meaning he needs to show up for this game for the team to sustain any sort of offense.Christian McCaffrey vs. Falcons linebackersIn addition to Moton, McCaffrey will need to show up in pretty much every facet of the game. Without Greg Olsen, McCaffrey should be tasked with being Cam Newton?s security blanket both down the field and out of the backfield. In addition Womens Taylor Moton Jersey , expect the Panthers to try to establish the running game early in an effort to alleviate some pass rush. I?d also expect some screens in the event the Falcons come out firing with blitzes. McCaffrey is going to be a major part of the offense going forward, as he is one of the few Panthers who can make a play on any given down.Who else are you watching?
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