Week 1 Film Review: Jerricho Cotchery

[Photo Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez]

Jerricho Cotchery celebrates the team’s only offensive score of Sunday’s game.    [Photo: Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez]

 

 

There’s a reason that the day immediately following the first slate of NFL games is referred to as Over-reaction Monday.

The casual fan likely watches their favorite team play, or whatever game was broadcast in their market, and later begins to skim the rest of the league’s box scores. While a win in this league is worth it’s weight in gold, scores and stat lines aren’t always a telling indication of a team’s outlook going forward – or where it sits in the current landscape among others.

In week 1, the Seahawks lost to the Rams, Adrian Peterson only rushed for 31 yards, and Peyton Manning didn’t throw a single touchdown. All shocking realities you may have noticed in the score section – but none necessarily any cause for concern. As it relates to the Panthers, Cam Newton’s stat line of 175 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception is unimpressive by any measure. But the film reel would suggest that if not for a questionable pass interference call on Greg Olsen’s would-be touchdown, and an inexcusable drop by an end zone-bound Ted Ginn – Newton is looking at a much more appealing 214 yard, 3-score outing.

Of course, that’s not a sustainable point for argument’s sake; Its impossible to separate individual plays and analyze them in a vacuum. But it’s worth noting, to convey the disparaging gap between statistics and film. Below is another look at the Ted Ginn drop, in which the closest Jaguars defender was seen having a beer across the street:

 

If you’re looking for any hope in the realm of this season’s Carolina pass catchers, there may be reason to look to Jerricho Cotchery. While the 12th-year veteran’s most valuable asset comes off the field in the form of mentoring, and you won’t see him beating any top corners this late in his career — he still possesses the sure hands and precise route-running ability that allowed him to catch 10 touchdowns with Pittsburgh just two years ago.

He put that same route running on display in Jacksonville last week, as he went for Carolina’s only offensive score of the game. It was his supreme understanding of NFL defenses, as well as some timely footwork, that found him wide open in the end zone late in the first half.


 

FILM BREAKDOWN

CotcheryTD(1)

On first and goal from the Jaguars 7, the Panthers line up in the Shotgun, with 2 wide receivers Left and Jerricho Cotchery the lone receiver on the Strong side (bottom of frame). He motions toward the middle of the field and settles on the “10”, where he’ll begin his route. Notice both Greg Olsen and Jonathan Stewart drive their routes outward toward the right sideline, taking the outside linebacker and cornerback with them.

CotcheryTD(2)

Philly Brown also runs a flat to the left side of the field, sending a total of 3 defenders to the sidelines and opening up passing lanes to the middle of the field. At this point, Cotchery (red) seems to be settling into a short 5-yard route, which forces the middle linebacker to stay and maintain his zone responsibility. This also leaves the free safety with no choice but to lock into help-coverage with Ginn’s post route. (top-right of frame)

It is with great timing and footwork that Cotchery then breaks into the second hitch of his route, allowing him to find free space in the end zone.  Newton makes the correct read and places the ball just outside of the middle linebacker’s reach. Watch the play in-full below:

 

Without top-wideout Kelvin Benjamin this season, the Panthers will need their remaining pass catchers to step into greater roles than they’ve seen in the past — and with Greg Olsen tasked with blocking all-world defensive end JJ Watt this week, don’t be surprised if the veteran Cotchery sees more targets than usual; Especially in the red zone.

 

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Week 1 Preview: Panthers @ Jaguars

 

week1

Design by J3 Digital

In a week that saw the NFL break more off-the-field news than on, fans and players alike are eager to line up and kick off the 2015 season. And while that was officially done on Thursday night, as the Patriots beat the Steelers 28-21, Carolina will embark on a title-defense of its own tomorrow, against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

 

1995 EXPANSION

On October 26, 1993 – the NFL announced that its owners had unanimously voted for the Carolinas and Jacksonville to receive the 29th and 30th franchises – its first new teams since 1976. While there’s since been a significant re-alignment of structure in 2002, here’s how each have fared since inception:

Panthers Jaguars
Division Titles 5* 2**
Playoff Record 7-6 5-7
Conference Championship Appearances 3 1
Super Bowl Appearances 1 0

*4 within current alignment, 1 NFC West Title (1996).

**Both titles from defunct AFC Central.

 

It’s evident that Carolina has seen the more successful start, but they find themselves limping into this Week 1 matchup – on a day that all records stand even.

 

An offseason that included season-ending injuries to number one wideout Kelvin Benjamin, and vital rotation piece Frank Alexander – the Panthers will look for new faces to take on greater responsibility, no different than standout rookies Bené Benwikere and Tre Boston did in last season’s playoff push.

 

Jacksonville is no stranger to injury woes, having lost two marquee players in Julius Thomas and Dante Fowler Jr.

 

Thomas, a blockbuster free agent acquisition from Denver, fractured his right hand in his first preseason action in Jacksonville, and will miss the first month of the season after a necessary surgery. Fowler, the Jaguars #3 overall pick, suffered a torn ACL in his very first practice following the draft.

 

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

NEW SECONDARY

Free Agent acquisition, Charles Tillman, will lead a revitalized secondary this season [Photo Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez]

Free Agent acquisition, Charles Tillman, will lead a revitalized secondary this season [Photo Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez]

This season’s Week 1 Defense will include only one defensive back who started last season’s opener, in Roman Harper. The other three: Melvin White, Antoine Cason, and Thomas Decoud – have all been released from the team. Until Star Lotulelei returns, the Panthers won’t boast the elite defensive line that they’ve fielded in years past – so this new-look secondary will need to step up if the group plans to return to Top 10 prominence.

RUNNING GAME

Jonathan Stewart breaks away for a 69-yard touchdown run against the Saints. [Photo AP - Bill Feig]

Jonathan Stewart breaks away for a 69-yard touchdown run against the Saints. [Photo AP – Bill Feig]

Over the final 6 weeks of 2014, including playoffs, Jonathan Stewart laid down a stat sheet second to only Marshawn Lynch – and looked on film to be one of the most exciting rushers in the league. Monster games against the Saints, Browns, and Cardinals (in which he rushed for over 120 yards each) led the way to an average of 5.1 yards per carry – and helped propel the Panthers to a division title and playoff berth. If he can pick up where he left off, Stewart has the chance to lead this Carolina offense in a fashion that it desperately needs after losing Kelvin Benjamin. Although Ron Rivera noted this offseason that they’d like to limit him to the neighborhood of 15 carries per game, he’s shown that he still has the ability to take over a series, and they won’t steer away from him if he starts rolling. Look for him to get out to a hot start against a Jaguars defense that gave up an average of 127 yards on the ground last season.

 

The Panthers re-elect their 6 team captains from last season. [Image via Panthers.com]

The Panthers re-elect their 6 team captains from last season. [Image via Panthers.com]

SEASON CAPTAINS

Position – Player (Years of Captainship)

 

QB – Cam Newton (3rd)

TE – Greg Olsen (2nd)

C – Ryan Kalil (3rd)

DE – Charles Johnson (3rd)

LB – Thomas Davis (5th)

LB – Luke Kuechly (3rd)

 

LAST MEETING

On the third week of the 2011 season, Cam Newton & Ron Rivera’s rookie year, the Jaguars traveled to Charlotte for a game that featured a torrential downpour, much like that of the memorable 2013 matchup with the Saints. With the Jaguars in the lead for much of the second half, Cam Newton drove down the field with 4 minutes left to play – and completed both a touchdown pass and 2-point conversion to Greg Olsen, notching his first game-winning drive and first career win in the NFL. The game also featured an incredible catch-and-run by Jonathan Stewart, which was called back – noted here by David Newton.

 

 

You can watch the null-and-void Stewart play here.

 

 

INJURY REPORT

NAME POSITION INJURY WED THURS FRI STATUS
Richie Brockel TE Shoulder DNP DNP DNP Out
Nate Chandler OT Knee LP DNP DNP Out
Ryan

Kalil

C Knee LP LP FP Probable
Josh Norman CB Concussion LP LP FP Probable
Teddy Williams CB Groin FP FP FP Probable

 

Practice Status:

DNP = Did not participate in practice

LP = Limited Participation

FP = Full Participation

(-) = No Practice Status Available

 

Game Status:

Out = Player will not play

D = Doubtful (25% chance a player will play)

Q = Questionable (50% chance a player will play)

P = Probable (75% chance a player will play)

(-) = No player status available

 

 

GAME BROADCASTS

 

TELEVISION

 

FOX (1:00 PM)

Play-by-Play: Chris Myers

Analyst: Ronde Barber

Sideline: Jennifer Hale

 

RADIO FLAGSHIP

 

WBT-AM (1110 AM in Charlotte)

Play-by-Play: Mick Mixon

Analysts: Jim Szoke, Eugene Robinson

Sideline: Jordan Gross

Follow Austin on Twitter @Austallings for Breaking News, Injury Updates, and General Football-oriented Rants.