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Crawling Toward Week 1

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In the midst of the dog days of summer the week one game against the Panthers feels like it might as well be Christmas it's so far away. In reality it's not that far away at all. There's a great discussion going on in anticipation of that first game. We'll get into the break down of each a little more as the season goes on, but one thing everyone seems to be in agreement with for that first week is that the Panthers will be a nice little warm up for the Rams defense, a not too challenging opponent that will give us all a feel for what we've got in a game situation that matters.

Checking the stats at Football Outsiders, the 2006 Panthers struggled more than you would expect any team with Steve Smith to struggle. Per DVOA, the Panthers running game had a DVOA of -6.7%, 19th in the league. Their air attack led by Delhomme and Smith, who both missed some time last season, ranked 17th in the league with a -2.2% DVOA. Besides the injuries, poor play from the offensive line gets most of the blame. FO's power stat for O-lines measures the success of running plays on third or fourth down that resulted in first downs or TDs. The Panthers o-line ranked 31st in the league with a 50% DVOA in that category, a poor result for a team with two pretty good RBs in Foster and the exciting rookie DeAngelo Williams. Look also at their stuffed rank, which measures "Percentage of runs that result in (on first down) zero or negative gain or (on second through fourth down) less than one-fourth the yards needed for another first down." They had just a 25% success rate in those situations, 22nd in the league. Pass protection was much better; the Carolina QB was sacked on just 5.2% of all passing plays, 8th best in the NFL.

Anyway, jump in on the discussion in 3k's diary here.

Please welcome Golden Horns to the small but growing Rams blog family. Golden Horns' Erik is none other than the prolific blogger behind Cardinal fan favoritesFuture Redbirds and a regular contributor at Viva El Birdos.