Inside the Panthers

Panthers ‘should have had more population’ around Michael Crabtree on big play

Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree, left, catches a pass from quarterback Derek Carr as Carolina Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein hits him in the face during fourth quarter action at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA. on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Raiders would defeat the Panthers 35-32.
Oakland Raiders wide receiver Michael Crabtree, left, catches a pass from quarterback Derek Carr as Carolina Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein hits him in the face during fourth quarter action at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, CA. on Sunday, November 27, 2016. The Raiders would defeat the Panthers 35-32. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Without mentioning any names, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott admitted that his unit made a pretty big mistake on Sunday night in a 35-32 loss to Oakland.

In the fourth quarter, with the game tied at 32, the Raiders got a key first down and into field goal range on a 49-yard catch by receiver Michael Crabtree. Panthers linebacker A.J. Klein was in one-on-one coverage and it was all he could do to keep up with the speedy wideout as he streaked down the middle. Klein did not get turned around in time to make a play on the ball, instead getting tangled with Crabtree.

McDermott, who spoke to reporters via conference call on Monday, said someone should have been there to help.

“No. 1, I want to give credit to Crabtree. I thought he made a heck of a play, caught a contested throw,” he said. “The quarterback was under duress and threw it up there. I just feel that overall, we should have had more population around that throw in terms of helping A.J.

“Our underneath covers did a fantastic job. (Nickel) Leonard Jonson did a fantastic job of holding up the route. And so we should have had some more population around the ball to help A.J. and unfortunately, we didn’t.”

More specifically, a safety should have been there. McDermott did not want to call out a player.

“I don’t want to get into specifics,” he said. “But when you look at Cover 2 (defense), that’s certainly what happens in Cover 2.”

Just a few plays later the Raiders were able to knock in the go-ahead field goal that ultimately won the game. Afterward, Klein took full responsibility for the play in the locker room.

“That goes down to technique. I got to be better,” he said. He added that the play was likely one of a few that were “probably a deciding factor. I take full responsibility for that.”

“I don’t want to sit here and take anything away from A.J,” McDermott said. “He started for us last year in 3 1/2 games and I don’t want to take anything away from those games. So I want to make sure everyone understands that A.J. is a good, solid football player and played extremely hard yesterday.”

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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