7-Things for

Panthers Part II.


Patriots Game


7-Things For The Panthers: Part II.

By Tom Mahoney

3. The Panthers- The Panthers have a fantastic Defense. Well… maybe that’s a little wrong. The Panther have a very good Defense, with fantastic speed. They spent a lot of draft capital focusing primarily on speed, especially with their linebackers. They attack all over the field, and have the fastest Defense on the planet. They win with Defense, much like the Pats last week against the Chargers. The good news is that McCaffery is not 100% yet.

“Saturday is typically the day we move around and try to have explosive movements. So we will see if he is able to hit full speed. He is obviously in good condition and knows the game plan. So I am hopeful that Christian might play, I really am,” Rhule said. “He is just coming back and I don't think it would be one of those 50 or 60 or 70 play games. Christian will play when he is ready, and only play as many snaps as seems appropriate for where he is coming back. And hopefully if we do that we can build him back up to getting 40, 50 or 60 snaps when need be.”

That is how they win, with Defense and the run game. Very similarly to the Pats. I would say the Panther have the faster Defense, but the slower run game. I give the Pats the Advantage in the run game. Which also gives them the advantage on Offense. Rookie QBs need help, and Darnold needs just as much help, of not more than Mac. Against these two defenses, the team that runs the best and turns over the ball the least will win.  Because both Defenses will be coming for the two young QBs.

“I’d say, athletically, they’re quite different, but both [ their QBs Darnold and Walker] have a strong arm. Walker’s got a good deep ball. He’s quick, active in the pocket," BB said. "Sam is too, but I’d say Walker has some ability to escape. But he can definitely throw the ball. Lot of long plays down the field, throwing the ball well in preseason and in a couple of games he played last year. Debrief for both guys and then whoever’s next. If Darnold can’t play, I guess it’d be [James] Morgan as the backup."

What the Pats D has to do is continue to confuse Darnold. The Pats Defense has schemed to take away what he does best, and make him go to his 2nd 3rd and 4th reads, which is not his strength. He wants to throw fast. When he can’t he panics. The Pats consistently beat the Jets, because they consistently got him to panic. The Pats have to do it again this week, because this is the fastest defense Mac has never seen.

“We ran the ball well, we just have not been committed enough to running it. And that's going to change, I can tell you right now. You'll see a vastly different look from us moving forward," Matt Rhule said. "We're not going to line up and drop back and throw it 40 times a game and think that's going to win the game for us. It hasn't. So we're going to redefine who we are. We're going to run the football, and we're going to protect our quarterback, and we're not going to turn the ball over anymore. And that's the only way that we're going to win."

This game could turn brutal very fast. Sounds like fun to me. Pick the Under.

4. The Speed of a Panther- The Panthers also have two fantastically fast Edgerushers. Haason Reddick was a 1st Round pick out of Temple because of his speed, and Brian Burns was a 1st out of FLA ST because of his speed as well. They are both also excellent against the run. But the Pats are going to have to watch both guys on the edge, because they can get to Mac fast and due some damage. Their Defense is ranked 2nd in stats, and 1st in speed this year.

"The thing you see about Mac right off the bat is he's a gamer,” Matt Rhule said. “He's got a great presence about him. He loves the moment, loves the competition, so there's not much doubt that he has that quarterback swagger that you can feel when you're on the field."

Their great Defense has also recently added, for different reasons, Gilmore, Shaq Thompson, and Safety Justin Burris. They will be more of a veteran defense this week than before, and they were killing Offenses with their speed before. Gilmore is as good as it gets at Corner, when healthy. Shaq is as good as it gets at LB, and was a Defensive Player of the Year. He has had two straight 100-tackle seasons.

"The guy was just playing two weeks ago. The fact that he's here, I think, speaks a lot about who he is," Rhule said, when coaching Mac at the Senior Bowl. "You get a chance to see his intelligence. He makes really quick decisions. He processes information quickly. Highly intelligent. He's an alpha. He's the first guy on the practice field. He's the first guy in the Runnings. He's got a lot of really, really, really strong traits."

This is going to be a big test for Mac Jones. He is going to be seeing things he hasn’t seen before. Like Linebackers that run and play with the speed of DBs. They are going to blitz him from every angle. He is going to have to thrower quicker, faster, and in rhythm more this game than last week. If they can keep Mac on his feet, the Pats will win this game. Whichever Offense can keep their QB on his feet the best will win this game.

5. The Good News- The good news is that the Panther have Sam Darnold as their QB. And we all know how Sam likes to give the Pats some finely giftwrapped Turnovers when they need it the most. This week they are facing a defense that can get to the QB fast and knock his block off. The Pats need their Rookie QB upright and mentally alert, not in the dirt and dazed and confused. We know Mac can take a hit, but this week, against this defense, it will hurt the team a lot more if he’s getting pounded into the turf by the Panthers’ speed-rushers.

“Sam's not playing well enough; let's start there," Matt Rhule said. "Which means that Sean [Ryan] and Joe [Brady] and me aren't coaching good enough. We're 3-3, all right. There's a lot of teams 3-3, and I think it's starkly clear in front of us what the issues are.”

The Pats will be looking to win this Game with Defense as well. The key for the Pats D this week is to turn the ball over. When the Panthers lose the Turnover battle they Lose. When they win the Turnover Battle they Win. The Pats won last week primarily because the Defense turned the ball over. This is what happens when you have a rookie QB. You become overly-reliant on the run game and the defense. It will be the same this week. They’ll need a turnover or three to win this one on the Road this week.

"We turned the ball over twice in our three wins. We turned the ball over eight times in our three losses," Matt Rhule said. "Now when I say Sam's not playing well what does that mean? It means the offensive line's not getting it done for him, the running backs aren't getting it done for him; everyone on offense, every receiver, every back, every o-lineman, every tight end, their job is to help our quarterback play well. And we are not getting that done.".” 

He just keeps winning.).

6. Damn, We’re in a Tight Spot- The other bad news for the Pats is that the Panther plan is to run 30 or more times a game to keep the pressure off of Darnold. They want to run-run-run. They win with speed on Defense, and run-run-run on Offense. They don’t trust their QB in tight spots, and run-run-run to keep him out of tight spots. The Pats will also have to be excellent on Special Teams. When you can’t trust your QB a tight spot? You have to win in other phases of the game. Defense and special teams.

“We had some bloody runs, we had some 2nd down runs and went for it to get 3rd down ones, and quarterback sneaks. Find a bunch of different ways to try to do it. You can only do that when you're converting 3rd downs,” Rhule said. “As I said on Wednesday, I thought we were excellent on 3rd down. And Sam gave us a lot of plays with his legs, which we knew was going to be important. So, we've talked a lot about it today. We finally did. First time since I've been here, we ran for 200-yards. So it's a step in the right direction. Let me say, I thought Ameer Abdullah was just an absolute jolt of energy for us today and was excellent.”

The Panthers have a good back in McCaffery. The Pats will probably have one of their versatile safeties covering him. Which is good because they got a lot of them. Phillips and Dugger will be keying on him all game. They have both been excellent in run defense and can cover the RB out of the Backfield. They will give the Pats some advantages on Defense.

7. Pats Win- The Pats will win because they can put Darnold in tight spots, and Mac has shown he can escape the tight spots better than Sam already. The primary fear is that Mac hasn’t seen a Defense this fast before. So this should be a fast, ugly, old school run and play D game, with the Pats having just enough advantage in the air to win.

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