|Panthers offense confident it can 'flick the switch' when regular season begins|
|Written by Steve Reed|
|Wednesday, 08 September 2010 17:51|
CHARLOTTE – No touchdowns in the preseason? No problem.|
So say the Carolina Panthers, who shrugged off the notion that their preseason struggles – they were the first team in 14 years not to score an offensive touchdown in the preseason – will carry over to the regular season.
The Panthers firmly believe that once the real bullets fly Sunday against the New York Giants at the New Meadowlands Stadium they’ll simply be able to flick the switch on offense and things will click.
“Yeah, I think so,” said quarterback Matt Moore confidently. “That’s the plan.”
Leading receiver Steve Smith, who didn’t play in the preseason, reiterated that by saying, “I think we can. I think we will.”
It didn’t happen a year ago, however, as the Panthers scored only one offensive touchdown in the preseason and then struggled coming out of the gates, losing their first three regular season games.
Like Smith, 2009 leading rusher Jonathan Stewart didn’t play in this year’s preseason games, meaning the team was without two of its top skill position players. Stewart likewise feels the Panthers will be just fine when they get back to what they do best -- running the football.
The Panthers threw the ball more than they ran it in the preseason largely because they were so young in the passing game and wanted to find out what they had.
“I think it’s going to be a whole different show, period,” said Stewart, who rushed for a franchise-record 206 yards last December in a 41-9 win over the New York Giants. “Like I said, the regular season is totally different than the preseason.”
Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams dismissed the team’s offensive struggles in the preseason with a sarcastic chuckle, saying, “The preseason? You're talking about the preseason? Oh, OK.”
So why are the Panthers so optimistic they can turn it around?
Williams said it’s largely based on past history, pointing to the way the Panthers finished the regular season last year by winning four of five under Moore, who replaced the injured Jake Delhomme.
“We beat a Vikings team last year with Matt Moore,” Williams said emphatically. “We beat a New York Giants team with Matt Moore. We came close to beating a New England team. New Orleans Saints, granted they didn't have Drew Brees, but it's hard to get a win in this league. That's what makes me optimistic.
“I know what he's capable of doing. I know what our wide receivers are capable of doing, and our backfield, O-line and defense are capable of doing.”
Even coach John Fox downplayed the team’s preseason struggles on offense.
“These are regular season games now and I think in the preseason we spend more time evaluating people and we do our best to pick the right 53 guys,” Fox said. “There’s not a lot of schemes going on or those type of things.
“We practice every day. There are a lot of things we see in practice you may not see in the preseason games. But we feel just as strongly as we did at the close of last season.”
Williams cited the Indianapolis Colts’ horrible preseason record – and spectacular regular season record -- over the past several years.
“Granted, we're different than the Indianapolis Colts, but it's the preseason,” Williams said. “I’ve told a lot of people we're saving all our touchdowns for the regular season. That's pretty much all I have to say about that.”