[vc_row no_margin=”true”][vc_column width=”1/1″]After watching his team rally to win last week in Buffalo, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera didn’t sugarcoat things. Overall, he was “disappointed” about the preseason opener.
Saturday night, it was more of the same. The Panthers staged another fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Dolphins, but what happened in the first half mattered much more than the final score.
Rivera was again “disappointed,” using some form of the word six times during his opening remarks after the game.
He wasn’t happy with:
- The first-team receivers. Four days after top wideout Kelvin Benjamin was lost for the season with a torn ACL, Corey Brown, Ted Ginn and Jerricho Cotchery combined for one catch. Ginn caught his only target for a 15-yard gain. Cotchery wasn’t targeted while Brown had a couple drops.
- Penalties. The Panthers had nine penalties a week after they picked up 10. Three of Saturday night’s flags wiped out good plays by the first-team defense and allowed the Dolphins to stay on the field
- Third downs. The offense converted just three of its 13 third downs while the defense allowed the Dolphins to convert nine of their 16 tries.
- 2 yards away, no points. After another sputtering start, the offense drove 78 yards on its fourth drive. On first-and-goal from the 2, fullback Mike Tolbert gained a yard. On second down, he lost a yard. Cameron Artis-Payne picked up a yard on third before Cam Newton’s diving attempt at the left pylon fell short.
- Red zone defense. Miami scored two touchdowns in three trips inside the red zone.
- Missed takeaway opportunities. A pair of strip sacks were recovered by the Dolphins’ offense and Panthers’ defenders also failed to hang on to a couple would-be interceptions.
But Rivera was pleased with:
- The second tier of receivers. Jarrett Boykin, Mike Brown, Brenton Bersin and Damiere Byrd totaled 14 receptions for 167 yards and a touchdown.
- An improved effort by the defensive line. Frank Alexander’s injury aside, it was a nice bounce-back performance by the unit that disappointed Rivera the most in Buffalo. Defensive ends Kony Ealy, Wes Horton and Mario Addison each had their moments while Kyle Love and Dwan Edwards provided a good push up the middle.
- The second- and third-string defense in the fourth quarter. Even though the Dolphins scored nine points in the final 15 minutes, Rivera was again pleased with some of his young defenders. Undrafted tackle Terry Redden followed up his solid debut with a memorable one-handed interception.