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September 16, 2013

Panthers film review: Inside look at Bills' final drive

Just watched the replay of the Fox broadcast of the Panthers' 24-23 loss Sunday at Buffalo.

Focused on a couple of the key series. A few takeaways:

--Much has been made about Ron Rivera's decision to take the field goal rather than go for the first down on fourth-and-1. Less has been made about Mike Shula's call the play before -- on third-and-5 from the Bills' 25 with 1:48 left.

After two up-the-middle runs for DeAngelo Williams, Shula called another run -- this one for fullback Mike Tolbert over right guard. Left guard Amini Silatolu and tight end Greg Olsen pulled on the play, and the blocking wasn't bad (LB Arthur Moats made the tackle).

Still, it wasn't the kind of go-for-it call a team in need of a win and a lift could have used. (Shula called a great, play-action pass to Olsen in the first quarter that gained 31 yards.)

A few observations from the Bills' game-winning drive:

--On the first play, Stevie Johnson caught a short pass along the left sideline. Cornerback Josh Norman had a chance to keep Johnson in-bounds, but whiffed on the tackle, saving the Bills -- who were out of timeouts -- valuable seconds.

--On an incompletion to RB Fred Jackson with 40 seconds, it was unclear whether he made the catch and fumbled on Thomas Davis' hit. Jackson clearly thought it might have been a fumble -- he got on top of the loose ball.

Either way, the Bills would have retained possession. But if it were ruled a catch and a recovered fumble, more time would have ticked off the clock.

--Two plays later, Greg Hardy nearly sacked rookie QB EJ Manuel. Hardy, lined up at defensive tackle, came through the middle, dived and got a piece of Manuel's leg.

Manuel stumbled, but kept his balance and threw a short pass to RB C.J. Spiller, who went out of bounds after a 4-yard gain at the Panthers' 31 with 21 seconds left.

--On the next play, LB Luke Kuechly was called for pass interference, negating S Colin Jones' interception. Kuechly definitely stuck his arm out and made contact with Johnson downfield, knocking him off his route and causing the interception.

--On the game-winning pass to Johnson, DB D.J. Moore is clearly signaling to Norman before the snap to switch on the Bills' rub route, which Buffalo had run earlier on the drive.

Norman said he never heard Moore's call -- Johnson said he did -- and didn't switch, leaving Johnson wide open in the corner of the end zone for the 2-yard TD catch.

--Joseph Person

Posted by Observer Sports on September 16, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Permalink


Nice breakdown. So let's recap shall we?

*Shula went way too conservative (SAY IT AIN'T SO)

*The D just missed making a couple of huge plays (Fatigue, anyone?)

*Josh Norman stunk it up not once but TWICE (A lot of people SWEAR he should be starting)

*We've now got team mates pointing the finger at one another in the press.

That about cover it?

Posted by: Panther Fan in GA | Sep 16, 2013 12:18:07 PM

Does River still have a job? Seriously!

Posted by: dennis | Sep 16, 2013 12:33:09 PM

Stupid auto correct. Even the computer is ashamed to spell out Rivera!

Posted by: dennis | Sep 16, 2013 12:33:37 PM

And the Panthers still have 2 unused timeouts. The defense was so tired and confused late, they shoulda took one after one of the many plays that the clock was stopped.

Posted by: JLC | Sep 16, 2013 12:35:46 PM

Not only does the consciousness of the team reflect a losing attitude, but it has become prominent for the fan base as well. Can't you feel it?

Posted by: Ed & Lucy | Sep 16, 2013 12:40:59 PM

The RivERA should be officially over. At least it is in the majority of fans minds. How anyone can actually have hope that this regime can turn it around is ludicrous. 2-14 in close games won't cut it at any level, let alone the highest. You can say Shula went conservative but what do you expect with his track record. Rivera should have been let go just for making that decision alone. We do not have the roster for a conservative approach. A unique and imaginative offensive mind needs to be tapped to lead this offensive group, especially with what we have at QB. Right now they are trying to turn him into a pocket passer, which he is not, and it is painful to watch. I honestly feel bad for Cam. Unfortunately our FO won't realize this until he is on another roster being fully utilized. 3rd and 5 after we've ran it like 10 straight plays, you think they know what's coming? Nah. 4th and 1 with a 250lb QB and we don't go for the win. Disturbing to say the least. My wife, who watches maybe 10 plays of the Panthers game a week, looked at me the second the Bills got the ball and said "You know they're going to loose! They do it all the time."

Posted by: Mike W | Sep 16, 2013 1:01:29 PM

Losing begats more losing and the finger pointing is already starting within the team. The Rivera/Shula regime is not going to win many games at all because of ineptitude and conservatism. This team is in disarray and is in shambles. Leadership begins at the top with JR, Gettleman, and Rivera and its not happening. A total housecleaning is in order and starting over with this franchise and the fan base will be long suffering into the distant future.

Posted by: Whitecomet77 | Sep 16, 2013 1:05:10 PM

One play, or even one series didn't lose this game or any other. Poor Coaching, and a penny wise pound foolish mean spirited, petty owner have doomed this franchise for the foreseeable future.

Posted by: Ashamed | Sep 16, 2013 1:11:23 PM

I am TIRED of hearing that Rivera is a nice guy. So, do the guys who like Rivera and want to keep him prefer Ron to these guys?

Bill Parcells
Bill Bellichick
Tom Coughlin

These guys have more Super Bowls than Rivera has come-from-behind wins. And none are "nice."

Posted by: Mike | Sep 16, 2013 1:17:04 PM

Oh yeah...I say you can't judge Newton if you want Rivera to go. Why? Its because Rivera/Shula have significant influence on Newton's play. If you dislike Newton/Shula (as I do), don't we need to give Cam a shot under a head coach with a clue?

Posted by: Mike | Sep 16, 2013 1:19:01 PM

My issue is completely with coaching. When you are up 3 & have the ball in the kind of field position with the other team having no timeouts why leave it solely up to the defense? If you go for it on 4th down & get it the game is over. If you don't get it the Bills still need a FG to tie & a TD to win. The other thing I don't get about Rivera is his use of the prevent D. I realize the Panthers secondary was depleted but if it wasn't he would still have had them in prevent. It has literally cost the Panthers 4 games I can think of off the top of my head. Saints, Bears, Falcons & yesterday's. You play good zone D all game I don't understand why you don't continue playing good zone with 9 & simply instruct your safeties not to let anyone behind them. The final coaching blunder was on the final play. The ball was dead. why not take a T.O. after they line up? This may get the Bills out of the play they want to run & you make sure your defense is set. This team is never prepared to play at the start of games. Look back at the lack of points in the first & 3rd quarter since Rivera has been there & you will see he doesn't have the Panthers ready to play & he doesn't adjust at halftime well. This is a waste of a talented team as long as Rivera is leading it.

Posted by: Eric | Sep 16, 2013 1:23:11 PM

When will Jerry Hear the Fans who are screaming for a new coach???

Posted by: Danny Hill | Sep 16, 2013 1:25:50 PM

I mean really. All Jerry cares about is his pocketbook!! It's extremely hard to call myself a Panthers Fan after 15 years of the same old CRAP!!! Wakeup JERRY..

Posted by: Danny Hill | Sep 16, 2013 1:27:21 PM

nice play by play but no killer instinct on offense!!!!! prevent defense against a rookie QB. its wasn't Peyton or Brady back there with a 1:36 left in the game. Rivera needs to relies that he's doing the same thing he's done the last 2 yrs and it didn't work, so why continuing doing it!!!!!! Food for thought!!!!!!!!! Something needs to change or Richardson needs to fire him

Posted by: southern flava | Sep 16, 2013 1:36:06 PM

I honestly think jerry had a tougher call to make back in january than people think.

the players apparently love playing for rivera and coaches like coaching for him. that doesn't win games but it makes guys hard to fire. especially when the players feel like they let the guy down.

he's a horrible decision maker though. the guy just can't manage the tough decisions of being a head coach.

also don't think the options last summer for our job were that great. still say jack del rio needs to be the target.

Posted by: charlottean | Sep 16, 2013 2:18:47 PM

To get off coaches and players for a moment, I am wondering if anyone else feels that the Fox camera coverage of Panthers games has been very weak. I mention this here because the Joseph Person watched the same footage the rest of us did, so maybe he would be willing to investigate and comment on this.

Personally, I noticed numerous occasions when significant plays were photographed from so far away that slow motion replays remained distant and thus vague. On at least one case--a Panther challenge over whether a Bill's receiver stepped out of bounds while making what was ruled a complete pass--commentators said the Refs would be seeing the same footage that the network was broadcasting to all of us.

However, this footage was terrible, as if it were shot from the top of the stadium on the other side of the play. I don't recall there were any views that were close enough for anybody to judge whether the receiver's foot was in or not. And as a viewer, I found multiple times when I wanted to see a closer view of other plays but none seemed available. In addition, I feel sure I have seen many games--pro and college--in the past with much better coverage than I have seen from Fox this year.

Anybody have any thoughts on this? Am I looking for too much? Will appreciate any follow-up.

Posted by: Caliban | Sep 16, 2013 2:24:51 PM

Panthers QB is not good!

Posted by: Hoke Buck | Sep 16, 2013 3:20:46 PM

Why do Panthers fans even write 8 paragraphs trying to explain this team. I suggest people wear fans wear paper bags at games and embarrass this team like it embarrass this city.

Posted by: zoom | Sep 16, 2013 4:44:48 PM

favor fortunes the bold, even in week one, first quarter we punted from the 42 in on fourth and one, no guts, no glory, pointless ... go for it, article in espn below shows we have a good short yardage history ... furthermore sabermetric stats show it is almost always more advantageous to go for it than not ... (on average 3.6 points per posession when going for it, max points 3 when kicking if you hit every time)


.... The Definition of Madness .... It's not that he's making decisions that go against the numbers, nor is it that he's choosing the most tentative, risk-averse option available to him. It's that he refuses to recognize his team's strengths and adapt his decision-making to incorporate them. This isn't Thank You For Not Coaching; it's Thank You For Not Learning. ... What is unquestionably true is that the Panthers are a wildly successful team in short yardage. Since Rivera took over and the Panthers drafted Cam Newton first overall, Carolina has run the ball on third-and-1 or fourth-and-1 43 times. It has converted 35 of those runs for first downs or touchdowns, meaning that its break-even rate on those plays has been a whopping 81.4 percent. Newton, in particular, has been near-unstoppable: He is 16-for-18 on those carries as a pro. You wouldn't want to risk sneaking him on every single short-yardage play just for the purposes of keeping him healthy, but with the game on the line, you simply have to turn to Newton. And even if you don't, Carolina's backfield is full of expensive running backs; Jonathan Stewart is hurt, but the Panthers could just as easily have handed the ball to DeAngelo Williams or Mike Tolbert. Even if you want to accuse that data of being too small to analyze, what do you think Carolina's "true" success rate is if it ran the ball a million times with a yard to go against an average defense? Would it convert 60 percent of the time? 70 percent? Literally, if the Panthers had to sit down and write a résumé, the first strength they would mention is their effectiveness in short yardage. And yet, Rivera turned down another opportunity to use that strength to seal a victory. .... On that play, you can see the slot cornerback, D.J. Moore, frantically signaling to the outside cornerback, Josh Norman, that something's up. That should have been Rivera's cue to use one of his remaining timeouts to make sure he had everybody in their right place before that fateful final snap. .... In fact, it's surprising that Rivera didn't call a timeout before the final play anyway, just to get the Bills out of the play they had previously called in the hopes of forcing them to a second choice while revealing (to some extent) what they wanted to do. It's a decision that plenty of veteran coaches make — Bill Belichick comes to mind — and one that comes with virtually no risk, since Rivera had two timeouts with six seconds left.

Posted by: encourage | Sep 16, 2013 4:53:19 PM

Nice breakdown Joe. Do it more.

Posted by: Wallace | Sep 16, 2013 5:04:46 PM

^^^ i agree. I've been yelling it the last 3 years. there should NEVER be a situation (outside of being backed up deep in our own territory) that 4th and 1 isn't an auto-hurry-up and sneak.

that's what brady and belichick have made their money doing.

rivera's response to the criticism for not going for it on 4th and 1.......he'll turn around and go for it on 4th and 8 or run 4 straight pass plays from the 1 yard line like he did last year. the guy just doesn't get it.

Posted by: charlottean | Sep 16, 2013 5:21:51 PM

We had them out of time outs 3 and 5 with Steve Smith and you try to run for 5 yrds with williams. Come on!! A first down would have sealed the game. The fans knew that but our so called pro coaches didn't.bad calls causes injuries.

Posted by: michael Simmons | Sep 16, 2013 6:18:20 PM

We had them out of time outs 3 and 5 with Steve Smith and you try to run for 5 yrds with williams. Come on!! A first down would have sealed the game. The fans knew that but our so called pro coaches didn't.bad calls causes injuries.

Posted by: michael Simmons | Sep 16, 2013 6:18:22 PM

We had them out of time outs 3 and 5 with Steve Smith and you try to run for 5 yrds with williams. Come on!! A first down would have sealed the game. The fans knew that but our so called pro coaches didn't.bad calls causes injuries.

Posted by: michael Simmons | Sep 16, 2013 6:18:24 PM

What has really changed since George Seifert? Nothing. Poor coaching. Ultra-conservative "play not to lose" play calling. Ownership that wastes money on some players and won't spend enough in other areas. Coaches that don't maximize the skills of their personnel. It's ridiculous. I think I've purchased my last Panthers home game ticket until Jerry sells. And all of you folks who throw your hard earned money away on the scam that is PSLs, this is a joke. Right now the "cheap seats" are $43.50 each. Family of 4, that comes to $174.00 If you park within a mile of the stadium. There's $20 more. If you eat anything at the stadium, that's $60 ($15 X 4). If you want to buy your kids any kind of merchandise, forget about it. And if you're driving from let say the Greensboro or Columbia, you're looking at 3 hrs. round trip in the car, 1.5 of which you're telling yourself you're a fool for wasting all that money and an entire Sunday and 1.5 of it, you're telling yourself you knew you were a fool to buy those single game tickets on Ticketmaster and sit in front of the profane drunk Seahawks fan, listening to him run his mouth the entire game because your team is to sorry to shut him up. Been there and done that. But no more. BoA Stadium can crumble to dust and I won't pay to go to another game, unless there's a new regime running the show in Charlotte and that includes the owner.

Posted by: Kurtis Gentry | Sep 16, 2013 7:09:50 PM

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