Heading into this game, I was hoping for just a few things:
(1) no one gets hurt
(2) how would the o-line play against a very good defense
(3) how does Daunte react to situations with this team
(4) can the secondary make anything work
And I saw all 4. Thankfully, no one was hurt on the Phins. The o-line did
a decent job of protecting Culpepper and making holes for the runners (the
fact that the runners didn't do much is inconsequential - see my first
note), save one play that I'll discuss later. Okay, even Bennie Anderson
seemed okay out there, though he did whiff on a couple of plays.
Daunte made some good decisions, ran a little, and even slid. I liked what
I saw there. And the secondary - generally - held up pretty well. At least
they didn't allow any long TD passes.
BUT, on a few ocassions, the secondary was caught flat footed on short pass
plays, and allowed first downs in front of them. They could have done more
Still, I thought it was a solid, though wholely unspectacular performance.
I was, however, very surprised on the breakdowns on special teams. Jason
Allen apparently pushed a guy into Wes Welker while he was attempting to
make a fair catch. I say apparently, because I didn't see it. He made
contact and then the guy changed direction. Still, the tackler surprised
Welker after he made a (late) fair catch signal and caused a muff.
And later, the Phins kick coverage team found themselves out of position
(players are told to stay in their lanes), with 4 players in the same space
on the field, and the Panthers scored an easy TD.
I don't worry too much about those things, but they were unexpected....
And as I often say during the preseason, the score doesn't matter.