The Carolina Panthers must be sick of ‘almost.’
They almost completed the comeback against Cleveland in week one. Last week, they almost beat the Giants. But like Brandy sang years ago, ‘Almost Doesn’t Count.’ Carolina has the need and hunger to win, but the execution on both sides of the ball hasn’t been there. If the Panthers want to snap their nine-game losing streak dating back to last November, here are three keys to a week-three win.
On paper, Carolina shouldn’t struggle with forcing turnovers. Secondary coach Steve Wilks’ zone-based pass defense should’ve had this secondary moving like ‘Thieves’ Ave.’ But the reality is that the last time the Panthers had a turnover was December of last year when Jeremy Chinn intercepted a Josh Allen pass against the Buffalo Bills. Luckily for the Panthers’ defense, they will be facing a generous Jameis Winston. Last week against Tampa, Winston threw three interceptions in the fourth quarter in the Bucs’ comeback win. If the Panthers’ secondary can’t get at least one interception off of Winston, then a meeting must take place among Wilks and the secondary heading into week four.
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Since the Panthers hired Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator, he’s been working toward a quarterback-driven offense. In order to get to the quick start McAdoo and Rhule have been talking about, the offense has had a tendency to abandon the run. The problem with that is, they are abandoning a strength. The O-Line thrives in run blocking. Why not lean into that and give CMC more touches? Granted, the concerns about McCaffrey’s health and usage are justified, but he has to carry more of the load offensively until the passing game comes along.
Adjust To The Pass Rush
While the Panthers need to get CMC more involved, they shouldn’t totally abandon the passing game. Why? Because the Saints are struggling with their pass rush. In their two games, the Saints only registered one sack, four QB hits and seven pressures. Falcons’ QB Marcus Mariota attempted 33 passes without a sack in week-one. Tom Brady attempted 35 passes while only being sacked once. For Baker Mayfield to be effective, McAdoo could elect for more go-routes instead of the slant and other quick game formations, only for the passes to get deflected.