Panthers vs. Eagles 2013: Rushing attack a concern in Carolina

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

While no phase of the Panthers' game looked impressive during Thursday night's loss to the Eagles, the struggles of the ground game could bode ill for the team's 2013 campaign.

It was an ugly night for the Carolina Panthers, who lost to the Philadelphia Eagles 14-9 in a game that didn't feel as close as the score. The Panthers defense looked rusty and confused, giving up over 400 yards and allowing first Michael Vick, then Nick Foles to carve up their secondary and move the ball through the air at will.

While the defensive backfield is certainly a point of concern, the team's offensive performance is a larger source of apprehension for Panthers fans. The unit sputtered through much of the game, failing to reach the endzone a single time. Cam Newton's accuracy was shaky, going 8-of-17, and the running game managed just 74 yards on the ground.

It's the lack of a consistent rushing attack, and the play-calling surrounding it, that has James Dator at Cat Scratch Reader concerned:

This is billed as a 'run-first' team, but the offense could only muster 3.0 yards per carry against a defense that allowed 4.2 yards last year. It wasn't just that blocking broke down, it's that there weren't any adjustments to counteract the meltdown on the field -- on either side of the ball. It was clear early that the offensive line was having a hard time with their interior blocking, and it was late in the second quarter before DeAngelo Williams was allowed to run off tackle. He gained six yards, and the play was never called again. There's only so much that can be said about hiding one's hand, at some point clear changes need to be made on the field to show you're acknowledging what's happening.

Before you go putting your season tickets up on StubHub, Panthers fans, know that Thursday night wasn't all bad. One of the few offensive bright spots was receiver David Gettis, who Dator writes is playing his way up the depth chart:

It's been a stunning turnaround for a player who looked like one of the worst receivers in training camp. Gettis has easily played himself onto the 53 at this rate, and will likely battle Armanti Edwards for the third receiver spot. His 5 reception, 82 yard game was far and away the best from any Panthers' receiver -- and it's a testament to his character that Gettis has stuck to it, where so many players would fold.

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