It seems like a logical conclusion to draw: To be successful this season, the Carolina Panthers, with an injury-riddled defense that struggled last season, will need their offense to basically outscore opponents.
But the orchestrator of that offense -- quarterback Jake Delhomme -- doesn't buy it.
"I really don't see it that way," Delhomme said. "It's so easy to say, so childish to say, but on Sunday you just have to score more points than the other team. You do whatever you can to win the game."
It's been another week of bad news for the Panthers' defense. As they prepare for their third preseason exhibition Thursday against the Baltimore Ravens at Bank of America Stadium, the Panthers have learned they will be without linebacker Jon Beason (sprained knee) and safety Charles Godfrey (broken hand) for an indefinite period. Nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu (torn Achilles) has already been lost for the season.
These losses come to a unit that was already under fire for a shaky stretch late last season, when it allowed 30-plus points in five of Carolina's final seven games.
So why not think that the offense -- which features star running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, Pro Bowl receiver Steve Smith and an outstanding line -- will have to carry the team?
"Because the season goes in waves," Delhomme said. "Earlier in the season last year, the offense had some decent games, but the defense had some monster games. That flipped a little later in the year, when the offense] was able to have some good games."
But Delhomme is right. The defense helped the Panthers get off to a solid start, holding opponents to single-figure scoring in four of their first nine games, including a 34-0 shutout of the Kansas City Chiefs.
"That's just part of the season," Delhomme said. "You have certain phases of your team that have to win for other phases. Sometimes you'll have an off day or you're playing a team that matches [up] with you. It's part of the deal."
The Panthers' first-team offense and defense have gotten off to fitful starts this preseason. The offense showed some life in a 27-17 loss last week to Miami in Carolina's second game, thanks mostly to a sparkling 25-yard touchdown run by Williams. The key to that, though, was that Williams' run came at the end of a nine-play, 70-yard drive that lasted 5 minutes, 44 seconds.
"That's offensive football," Delhomme said. "When you keep the defense on the field, the longer you do, you have the upper hand. You want to impose your will so that they're not as fresh and you're keeping your rhythm."
The starters will likely play into the third quarter against the Ravens, as Delhomme continues to find that rhythm. It's tough to do in practice, he said, because quarterbacks aren't allowed to be hit.
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