The chance for Carolina to get off to a fast start this year is right in front of them now.
Not only is Carolina now 1-0 and already leading the NFC South, but the next four teams the Panthers will play this season all lost on Sunday. The Panthers next play Houston and New Orleans at home, followed by Tampa Bay and Seattle on the road. Seattle got to overtime Sunday before losing a close one – the rest of the games weren’t that close. With the difficult midsection of the schedule looming, Carolina absolutely needs to get off to a 3-1 or 4-0 start before its bye week Oct. 11.
▪ Carolina tight end Greg Olsen did not think he pushed off on what would have been a touchdown pass on the Panthers’ first drive. On second-and-goal from Jacksonville’s 4, Olsen made a juggling catch after contact with Jacksonville cornerback Aaron Colvin.
“He bit on the fake,” Olsen said of Colvin. “He came up and kind of grabbed me. I was running through him trying to track the ball. I’m not really sure how that ended up on me, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
▪ Josh Norman made the biggest plays on defense Sunday, but linebacker Thomas Davis wasn’t far behind. Davis had both a sack and an interception, and the diving pickoff was a play many defensive backs would not have made.
▪ It was curious that rookie Cameron Artis-Payne didn’t get a single carry while Jonathan Stewart had 22 touches (18 carries, four receptions). Artis-Payne’s time will come, though.
▪ Philly Brown had a very quiet day. He had no drops – Ted Ginn Jr. had the bad one – but he also caught only two passes for 13 yards, which is very low for a starting NFL wide receiver.
▪ Cam Newton ran the ball 14 times Sunday. I can’t imagine the Panthers want that number to be nearly that high against J.J. Watt and Houston in Week 2.
▪ Not having No. 59 on the field in the second half was bizarre for Carolina’s defense. Since he switched to middle linebacker in Week 5 of his 2012 rookie season, Kuechly has played 97.8 percent of all the Panthers’ defensive snaps. But the Panthers played inspired football without their best defensive player, giving up only 75 yards in the second half without Kuechly after giving up 190 with him mostly in the game in the first half.