“We’re urgent, we’re not desperate. You don’t want to get into desperate mode. We know our process, we know our players, we know we’re giving everything to the moment.”
These are the confident words of Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich days ahead of their Week 4 matchup against the visiting Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
The sentiment is understandable. The Panthers need to win. They need to win badly. However, they feel as if their need to win shouldn’t override their gameplan and process. If the Panthers’ process includes some of these keys to the game, they should get their first win of the season.
Watch For The Blitz
Minnesota sends blitzes on nearly 64 percent of opponents’ drop backs. The Panthers’ offensive line allows pressure on 45 percent of drop backs – and that’s a problem. The biggest reason for this issue is the fact that there’s no fight at the line of scrimmage. The offensive line is always pushed back instead of imposing its will forward.
Luckily for Carolina, the Vikings’ blitzes aren’t delivering the results like expected. Their blitzes have resulted in putting pressure on opposing offenses at 32 percent of the time.
In order for Bryce Young and the offense to succeed against this defense, they could use pre-snap identification and operate accordingly.
Establish The Run
With an O-Line that’s on high alert to pick up blitzes, they can also hold their position on enough possessions to get the run game going. The Vikings are 32nd in the league in rush defense. Carolina should take every opportunity to run, control the time of possession, and move the chains.
After establishing the run, the passing game should open up as Minnesota’s secondary is vulnerable.
Shrink The Field
Despite their 0-3 start, the Vikings are among the top teams in the league in passing offense. They have accumulated more than 1,000 yards through the air at 1,019 yards – trailing only Miami in yardage. Quarterback Kirk Cousins completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,075 yards, 9 touchdowns and two interceptions. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson has 27 catches and 458 yards on the year.
The Panthers’ defense shouldn’t give them space to pass. They could shrink the field by some man-to-man defense instead of a cover 2 zone. Pressure the offense with well-timed blitzes.
Win The Turnover Battle
The Panthers were very undisciplined last week in penalties. However, the Vikings are more turnover-prone. Leading the league in turnovers, Minnesota has had 24 percent of their drives end in a turnover. Since most of their turnovers are from the trenches the Panthers’ O-Line must be mindful to make sure that they and Young are on the same page in cadence and in play calling.
After committing 13 penalties, losing 82 yards in Week 3 against the Seahawks, look for the O-Line not to make the same mistakes twice.
Kickoff for Sunday’s match up against Minnesota is 1:00 p.m. at Bank of America Stadium.