Carolina Panthers: 2013 Week 3 Rapid Reaction
September, 22, 2013
By David Newton | ESPN.com
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A few thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 38-0 victory over the New York Giants:
What it means: That owner Jerry Richardson won't have to decide whether to keep coach Ron Rivera during the bye week. That perhaps the Panthers are, as Rivera has insisted on Friday, better than their 0-2 start indicated. Or maybe the Giants are worse than their 0-2 start. Regardless, the message all week has been to squash the opponent before the fourth quarter where the Panthers have blown two leads. Carolina did that with a touchdown on its final drive of the first half and first drive of the second half to make it 24-0. This was complete domination. Carolina has hope.
Stock watch: Offensive coordinator Mike Shula finally unshackled quarterback Cam Newton's legs and everything else fell into place. It didn't hurt that the Giants' defense was horrid, but Newton had something to do with it. He scrambled for a couple of big gains early. He ran the pitch-option. He used his 6-foot-5, 250-pound body to pick up a first down on fourth-and-1. He ran for a touchdown. He threw for three. He was efficient. Other than a few passes on out patterns -- one that was intercepted -- he played like the top pick of the 2011 NFL draft is expected to.
Unleash The Kraken: Greg Hardy, aka "The Kraken,'' adjusted his preseason sack goal from 50 to "a couple" after going sackless in his first two games. He may have to adjust again. Hardy had a couple of sacks in the first quarter and finished with three. It might be time for his agent and the Panthers to get together during the bye week to extend that contract.
Kudos to secondary: I know everyone on Carolina's front four had at least one sack, but give the much-maligned secondary some credit. This group that was missing two starters, that ranked next-to-last in the NFL in opponent's completion percentage at 72.2, held the league's No. 1 passing attack in check better than anyone could have imagined.
What's next? The Panthers have a bye week, and it won't mean bye-bye to their head coach. They need the time off to heal injuries to several starters -- DT Dwan Edwards (thigh), SS Quintin Mikell (ankle) and CB Josh Thomas (concussion) -- before resuming the schedule at Arizona on Oct. 6.