CHARLOTTE – The New York Jets limited Steve Smith to one reception for 5 yards on Sunday using the same strategy most teams have employed against them all year.
The Jets played what’s referred to as an “under” look on defense, putting a corner on Smith and using a single-high safety to help out, while at the same time stacking the box with eight players to stuff the run. The Panthers managed just 179 yards on offense and 2.9 yards per play. Since the Panthers don't have much play-making ability at the No. 2 receiver spot, they've struggled to find an answer to their problem.
“It’s nothing that we have not seen before,” Panthers coach John Fox said. “It's only been going on for about eight weeks. So it's, how would I say it, more of the same. Not taking anything away from them, they are a very fine defense. But our execution from the run game through the passing game, really in all phases of the offense, was not very good.”
Smith admitted after Sunday’s game that he’s “not 100 percent.”
Smith was added to the injury report on Saturday with bruised ribs, but played anyway and was shutdown by cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“I’m not a quitter and I don’t want anymore excuses,” Smith said afterward.
Smith was also quizzed on why the offense is struggling so much this season, but refused to go there.
“I don’t know what needs to change,” Smith said. “I’m not in management so I don’t have the power. I’m not going to waste my opinion on doing it.”
BRAYTON MAKING PLAYS: Tyler Brayton is quietly putting together a very good second season with the Panthers.
Brayton, who had 59 tackles, 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble last year, already has 46 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery this year with five games left to play. Brayton had nine tackles and 1.5 sacks against the Jets.
MISSING GROSS: The Panthers are missing left tackle Jordan Gross more than anyone could have imagined.
Although Travelle Wharton has started 35 games at left tackle, he’s had trouble adapting the last two games after making the move from left guard when Gross went down for the season. Second-year player MacKenzy Bernadeau has also struggled in his first two starts as more athletic defensive linemen are eating him up.
“There’s a lot of thing he does that help with what we do,” center Ryan Kalil said of Gross. “But it doesn’t mean that it’s the end all to have him in there. The show must go on. We have some good players with Travelle Wharton moving out to tackle and MacKenzy (Bernadeau) at guard.
“There’s a little lack of experience in there, especially when you were rolling all season with the same five guys and last season as well.”