The more things change, the more they stay the same for the Carolina Panthers. Changing coaches is a positive step. However, it doesn’t change the fact that the Panthers are 1-4 on the year and are 10.5-point underdogs against the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams.
The Panthers are expected to compete with Steve Wilks on the sidelines, but here’s how they can win.
Play to Walker’s Strengths
Since Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold are both out with high ankle sprains, third-string quarterback PJ Walker will make his third career start Sunday. His previous starts resulted in wins and some solid numbers. In those two victories, Walker has a combined stat line of completing 46 of his 63 passes for 425 yards. His one to three touchdown to interception ratio isn’t ideal, but he did enough to get the wins regardless. In order for the Panthers to win, Wilks (and McAdoo) need to simplify the progressions for Walker and allow him to play to his strengths. When Walker does too much, is when he has issues.
Carolina’s defense has been banged up in recent weeks. Cornerback Jaycee Horn will not play and secondary mates CJ Henderson and Donte Jackson are all listed as questionable. Linebacker Frankie Luvu is also questionable with a shoulder injury. Jeremy Chinn remains out. Regardless of available personnel, the Panthers should deploy a pass rush and deploy it often. The defense should pressure Matthew Stafford and stop him from getting into a rhythm with Cooper Kupp. Since the secondary is thin, loading the box and constant QB pressure might be the only advantage the Panthers’ defense has.