Before we talk about week two for the Carolina Panthers, there were many bright spots for the team in week one to discuss. After implementing the team’s offense and defense over Zoom this offseason, many could expect a bad first game.
Not the case for the offense, who drove down the field and scoring on their first four drives of the game. They ended the game scoring on six out of nine drives with the final drive being a turnover on downs that could have been a score. Also, Teddy Bridgewater didn’t throw an interception or turn the ball over against a team blitzing most of the game.
For the defense, the bright spots come from two of our rookies and a second year player. The youngsters came ready to play yesterday. Derrick Brown showed that he is the real deal, finishing the game with one pass deflected, 1 tackle, 2 assisted tackles and a tackle for loss. Fellow rookie Jeremy Chinn was also a bright spot. He flew around the field and looked like a man on a mission. Leading the team in tackles with seven as well as one assisted tackle.
Finally, the last bright spot was Brian Burns. He didn’t show up big on the stat sheet, but showed the ability to drop back in coverage and go make a tackle in space. He also has a quick first step and burst after the snap of the football. Burns got around the tackle many times with his quickness, but over pursued too often, allowing the quarterback to step up into the pocket. Keep an eye on him, Brown and Chinn as the season moves along.
Moving forward to week two
The Panthers will travel South to Florida to play against division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The offseason additions of Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Tristan Wirfs, LeSean McCoy should have drastically improved the teams offense. They also added yet another offensive weapon in Leonard Fournette, who they acquired a week before the season began. So this should be a tough test…
Looking back to week one for the Buccaneers
In week one the Buccaneers started off playing well against the New Orleans Saints. In the first half, Brady was able to drive down the field on their first drive with what seemed like ease and score a touchdown. It didn’t last though. The Bucs were stopped on the next five drives straight. Two of those ended in interceptions, two in punts and one in a blocked field goal. In the second half, the Buccaneers scored on three out of six of their drives, ending the game scoring on four out of twelve drives throughout the game.
Tom Brady ended the game 23-36 passing with 239 passing yards, two passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and two interceptions. Seemingly the Saints were able to blitz Brady successfully, getting three sacks. The sacks could have caused Brady to rush more than he wanted, inevitably leading him to get the ball out faster and make a few mistakes. He sailed one throw over the receiver’s head for an easy interception, and threw an ill-advised throw to the flat which was picked and returned for a touchdown.
Moving forward for the Panthers
For the Panthers to have success against the Buccaneers, the coaching staff will have to look at the film for this past week, especially at how the Saints were able to disrupt Brady and the passing game. They need to get pressure early and often from Yetur Gross-Matos, Brian Burns and Derrick Brown. Sending a blitz with linebackers will help as well. Having Brady sit in the pocket and be able to pick apart the young secondary can not be permitted to happen.
Against a good Saints defense, Ronald Jones rushed for 66 yards. After giving up 93 rushing yards last week against the Las Vegas Raiders, the Panthers will need to stop the run better this time around. Blitzing early to get pressure on Brady should also help prevent the Buccaneers three headed monster at running back from running early.
What to do on offense for the Panthers
The Panthers scored on 66% of their drives against the Raiders, but they had the ability to score on all their drives. The Panthers offense needs to force feed Christian McCaffrey early in the game to get a slow burn run attack moving.
McCaffrey had a career season last year and the Buccaneers could not stop him in their games, despite fielding a league leading run defense. Finding ways to get him the ball early in the passing game is also crucial, either through wheel routes, screen plays, or in the slot.
Once the defense focuses on one player like McCaffrey, he is more likely to command double coverage. Thus setting up the passing game for Bridgewater and the receiving core, which has the opportunity to outshine the Buccaneers offense.
The Panthers defense has to improve all around moving forward this season, especially to give the team a chance to win against arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. Getting a few stops early on and letting the offense do their thing and score some points will be the keys. They should also try to scheme some help for rookie corner Troy Pride Jr. who will most likely be picked on often by Brady. Also, watch the development of the injury to Donte Jackson‘s ankle leading up to the game. For the offense, the Panthers are McCaffrey’s team and needs to have the offense go through him to open up everybody else.
Final score prediction: 38-34 Buccaneers
As usual, all feedback is appreciated. Check me out on Twitter and Instagram @SznPanthers. Give me a follow and start a conversation or debate about anything Panthers!