The Hog Molly report rolls in for week 8 of the 2021 season, and this will be a rare double atta’ boy for both units.
Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Hog Molly Report, where winning in the trenches is all that matters. Before we begin, we open with the reciting of our usual motto:
“Big men allow you to compete. We’re certainly going to look at the big hog mollies.”
In keeping with the proven philosophy that building a team from the inside out is the best strategy for long term success, my goal will be to watch the hog mollies each game during the season and discuss their performance.
The Panthers earned some redemption during a dark time for the team. The offense has been so bad that the defense has been working overtime, and usually folding down the stretch as their legs get shaky under the time of possession burden. This week, the Panthers showed a commitment to running the football, and by god… it worked. Thanks to this effort they controlled time of possession and kept their defense rested and hungry in what was probably their best overall effort of the season.
The offensive line
Zero sacks. It’s always a good week when you see zero sacks. Now typically, your quarterback doesn’t end up with a concussion on a zero sack week, but unfortunately that was the case for Sam Darnold. More on that later. For now, I want to praise what was, by and large, a “take over the game” effort from an offensive line clearing wide lanes for Chuba Hubbard, Royce Freeman, and Ameer Abdullah. Entering this week, I doubted our ability to commit to the run and win football games, now I see that it may be possible even though our sample was against a not so great Atlanta Falcons front.
The Panthers latest combination of offensive lineman may be it’s most ready one, and I stop short of saying ideal for good reason. The foursome of Michael Jordan, Matt Paradis, Trent Scott filling in at right guard, and Taylor Moton was a potent road grading force. Cameron Erving had his moments too, but unfortunately, he also had one really awful moment, and it was the one that caused Sam Darnold to be concussed.
Watch Cam Erving’s effort on the play Sam Darnold got obliterated. The guy is jogging and not looking for anybody to hit. It’s one thing to get beat while giving . But this type of effort is and he got his QB knocked out of the game. pic.twitter.com/Enh2cUp69L
— The 4 Man Rush (@4ourmanrush) November 1, 2021
The Four Man Rush couldn’t be more correct. Cam Erving took this play off, and he could have easily prevented the hit that concussed his quarterback. Had he decided to earn his paycheck on this play, he would have been looking for someone to block, and the person he found would have been number 54 for the Falcons. If he just puts any kind of hat on him, this hit does not occur the way it occurs, and hell… Darnold maybe even gets the conversion.
I am tired of Cameron Erving as a whole. I would rather allow Brady Christensen more time to learn the left tackle position at the NFL level and deal with those speed bumps, because at least we would get full effort from him. Erving should be embarrassed in the film room when this play shows up.
The defensive line
The defense as a whole harkened back to the days of early season yore, and that clearly has a lot to do with their field general Shaq Thompson being back out there. There are a lot of people to highlight, and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that each player did their part in grinding out this victory and limiting the Falcons to just 13 points. Three sacks on the day could have easily been more, and the Falcons sputtered to only 83 yards rushing.
While the guys who notched sacks will get the most attention, I want to highlight the play of two second year players that played a pivotal role. Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos were a major factor in making sure the clamps were put on the run game, and of course Yeet got a sack as well. I think we all know Derrick Brown is supremely talented and have seen lots of plays where he shows the bear he is, but Yetur Gross-Matos deserves praise for his progress into a well rounded defensive end in year two. He’s not the sack artist Burns or Reddick are, but he definitely has a very well rounded skill set and the team is better with him in the rotation.
The Panthers have a chance to sneak up and win a few more games people are counting them out of this season, and one of those is this week against the New England Patriots. The offense may be a thorn in our side the rest of the way, but provided the defense can continue a level like this, forced turnovers, sacks, and limiting teams to more kicking will create some scoring opportunities, even if they are kicks of our own. As more guys get healthy on defense, and hopefully Christian McCaffrey returns to the offense, we still have a shot at surprising some people.