Back-to-back INTs doom the Panthers, fall to 1-9

After reviewing my expectations for this game, the one that sticks out to me the most is how I wanted the Panthers to “keep the score respectable.” That’s a rough thing to do considering we’re starting a QB who we signed off the streets two weeks ago behind a terrible offensive line. When the score was 20-13 Ravens, I was somewhat pleased and had a little shred of hope that the Panthers might actually keep things close and then all hell broke loose. I can not remember the last time I saw two pick six’s on back to back plays but it happened in this game and it shouldn’t take a genius to figure out who threw them.

Brian St. Pierre played about as well as I expected him to, which wasn’t very good at all. Aside from that 88 yard bomb to David Gettis, BSP relied on checkdowns and screen passes for the most part (many of which were dropped). He did an okay job of managing the game for awhile but when it came time to make a play, he choked big time. Sure, that TD pass to Gettis was amazing but he followed it up with a terrible pass into triple coverage that was picked off by Ed Reed and lateraled to Dawan Landry for a TD. His next pass was a quick slant that was intercepted by Ray Lewis and returned for a TD. Two awful decisions that turned a 23-13 game into a 37-13 game in a matter of seconds.

Let’s say those two picks didn’t happen would I rate St. Pierre higher? Sure, but it’d be upgrading a D- to a regular D or a D+ in my books. Seeing how he’s only been on the team for two weeks, he obviously didn’t know a lot of the playbook and the Panthers kept him very limited. He was told only to look to certain options and not trying to force things early which is all well and fine but there were a lot of times he missed open receivers and elected to check down to Mike Goodson instead of taking a shot down field. Shovel passes and smokescreen plays on 3rd and long aren’t going to get the job done and that’s why Carolina only had 1 third down conversion the entire game. His completion percentage would have been less than 50% even if those two passes weren’t interceptions and he made maybe two good passes through the air the entire day.

Here’s my question, though; Why was Brian St. Pierre even starting in the first place? I can understand why the coaching staff would opt to go with the veteran QB in this situation because he would have a better feel for the game than rookie Tony Pike. The problem is this “veteran” QB we have has been a reserve his entire career and has only thrown 5 passes. That and we only signed him two weeks ago. What’s the point of playing a QB if he doesn’t know the entire offense and we have someone else on he team that does? Better yet, this would have been a good game to test out Armanti Edwards to see what we have in him. The decision to start him baffles me.

It’s hard to blame he entire loss on him, though since the offense, as a whole, was terrible. The only three players who had good games were Mike Goodson, David Gettis and Steve Smith. I am starting to feel confident with Goodson being a #2 back here next year. He averaged about 5 yards per carry and had himself 120 yards on the ground today. He also caught 5 passes for 31 yards. Gettis and Smith are our two most reliable receivers as they caught almost everything thrown their way. I can not wait to see how Gettis does once this offense gets out of it’s current pitiful state. His speed can make him a lethal slot receiver.

Onto the negatives, the offensive line might be the biggest disappointment of the season for me. Yes, losing Jeff Otah is critical but we have two pro-bowlers in Ryan Kalil and Jordan Gross and both have struggled this year. Kalil was especially bad today as he struggled with snaps from the shotgun (and that stupid Wildcat play on the first drive) and he couldn’t keep Kelly Gregg out of the backfield. Also, Mackenzey Bernadeau at LG wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but the Ravens were constantly getting into the backfield and the reason St. Pierre had to check down constantly was because he had little time to throw. Also adding to our offensive line woes is bad blocking from our tight ends Jeff King and Dante Rosario. Rosario’s big missed block led to Jameel McClain getting to BSP untouched for an easy sack.

Picking up where I left off with the tight ends, I said last week that he was a lost cause and he didn’t do anything to prove me wrong this week. Bad blocking, 4 passes thrown his way and he caught none of them. One of which was an easy catch which was dropped. There were a lot of very bad drops from the receivers. Two of them came from our waiver wire guys; David Clowney on third down right before the half and Devin Thomas on a screen pass, showing why he hasn’t been activated all season.

Moving onto defense, they made a lot of good plays and kept us into the game but they were responsible for putting us in a bad spot to start out the game. Charles Godfrey was burned by TJ Houshmandzadeh on the first drive for a Ravens TD, Chris Gamble lost Ray Rice on a lot of plays and one of which was on a 3rd and 18 which led to a Ravens TD. Flacco always seemed to have a receiver open on every play in the first half and it led to us being down 17-3 going into halftime. However, I do commend them for clamping down and keeping things from getting worse in the 2nd half by forcing a lot of three and outs but the offense didn’t get the job done, like usual.

Things that stood out to me on the defense were that the defensive line was able to pressure Flacco sometimes. We had three sacks and were in the backfield on a good amount of plays but too many times I saw Flacco have all the time in the world to throw and find his receivers. There were also times where I saw people miss sacks. James Anderson had one in the first quarter and Tyler Brayton had another one during the game. I rarely agree with Solomon Wilcotts but he’s right with the obvious statement of “if you want to make it in the league you better know how to tackle.” Hell, I shouldn’t need to quote an announcer for people to know that. This was a problem early in the year, too and it’s continuing. Props go out to Greg Hardy, Charles Johnson and Everette Brown for actually bringing down Flacco when they got to him.

Secondary play could have been better and we had some pretty ugly mismatches with the Ravens receivers like we did week 1 against the Giants. Having a linebacker on Anquan Boldin isn’t going to work. Neither is having zone coverage with corners baiting on receivers inside routes leaving Ray Rice wide open. I’m looking at you Chris Gamble. Richard Marshall also had a couple of missed assignments but he did make a few nice plays so it kind of balances each other out. A guy I want to give a shoutout to is Jordan Pugh who made a couple nice plays to swat the ball away from Baltimore’s receivers. One coming on 3rd and short. He’s having a solid rookie season.

So, in the end, the score is about what I was expecting to see from this game but I didn’t think 14 of the Ravens points would come off pick 6’s. I knew St. Pierre would throw two picks but not in that fashion. Just more of the same from Carolina. Terrible offense, terrible playcalling, terrible game management which is what you can expect from a terrible team. My hope for the next week is that Jimmy Clausen will be ready so we can continue with this rebuilding thing. I mentioned last week that we will find out which areas to address in the coming weeks and it’s becoming evident that Carolina will have the #1 pick in the NFL draft this Spring. What we will do with that pick is still a mystery but hopefully we can get some more clarity about it later on in the season.

Game Balls:

Offense: Mike Goodson: Future #2 back? Maybe so. 120 yards against a tough defense and there’s already a lot of comparisons to DeSean Foster being made.

Defense; Charles Johnson: He remains the team’s best pass rusher and picked up another sack today.

Special Teams: Captain Munnerlyn: 64 yard kick off return a few solid punt returns to boot.

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