Panthers-Bucs outlook

Panthers-Buccaneers preview

The Panthers 2010 season didn’t exactly get off on the right foot last Sunday after they were beaten 31-18 to the New York Giants. They will have a good chance to rebound against a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that was one of the worst in the NFL last season. Carolina enters this game as 3.5 point favorites but they still have a lot of kinks they need to work out if they want to win this game. Matt Moore clearly needs to play better, that’s obvious but there’s some other things that need to be done if the Panthers want to come out of week 1 at .500.

1. Establish the run game.

It’s basically what we have to do every game but it’s very important in this one in particular. Tampa Bay had one of the NFL’s worst run defenses last year, so this is a big opportunity for Williams and Stewart to have a huge game. Williams managed to pick up 62 yards on 16 carries last week while Stewart gained 12 on a mere 5 touches. Williams had a few good runs, but he definitely could have done more, but the offensive line’s struggles had something to do with that. I’m hoping that Stewart at least gets a few more touches this time and maybe we could give Mike Goodson some carries as well. The Bucs defensive line is always in question, even with Gerald McCoy and Bryan Price. They allowed about 5.0 YPC to Peyton Hillis and Jerome Harrison last week against the Browns. I see no reason why Double Trouble can’t do the same thing. Tampa Bay plays a defense similar to ours where they are prone to give up a big play every now and then.

2. Don’t turn the ball over.

Yeah, I’m giving Moore the Delhomme treatment after only one game. He was that bad last week. Moore doesn’t need to be his 2009 version to win this game, he just needs to not make any terrible passes. The Bucs have a very good tandem of CBs with Aquib Talib and Ronde Barber, so Moore needs to be more careful and decisive with his passes. He also needs to actually make an effort to read the defense this week, too. Moore definitely has trouble finding his receivers and that’s something that needs to be fixed quickly. The only reason the Browns lost the game against them was because of Delhomme’s turnovers (and poor game management, which can happen to us, too) giving the Bucs great field position.

3. Make Josh Freeman as uncomfortable as possible.

Chris Gamble is hurt which means that Captain Munnerlyn is likely starting as the #2 corner, covering the Bucs rookie WR Mike Williams. The defensive line needs to do a better job than they did last week on rushing the QB because Munnerlyn isn’t going to fair well in one-on-one coverage. Marshall is also prone to get beaten by Arreloius Benn if he’s left alone. I would like to see Charles Godfrey actually watch where the play is going instead of starring into the backfield the whole time, too. My main point is, things will be a lot easier on this secondary if the front 4 can rush the passer more effectively. I wouldn’t be opposed to having the linebackers drop into pass coverage, either if we really need help in that area, particularly with covering Kellen Winslow. I get the feeling that Meeks will be calling more blitzes if the line struggles again, though. Freeman looked sharp at times int he

4. Stick with the running game even if it struggles.

If I see us pass the ball 3 straight times inside the 10 again then I’m going to break my TV.

5. Stop Cadillac Williams.
From what I’ve read on Bucs blogs, they are going to try a more balanced attack against us and might run with Cadillac Williams a lot. We were good at stopping Ahmad Bradshaw last week but they eventually wore us down. We can’t let the Bucs get ahead in this game because Cadillac is capable of chewing up the clock in those situations.

6. Offensive line needs to get better

Much like week 1 last season, the line didn’t look good at all. The absence of Jeff Otah had a lot do with that and he’s going to be out again this week. Our line getting momentum will play a huge factor in us having success in the running game. I’m hoping that it has some unity this week.

7. Tight ends need to be more involved.

Both in blocking and receiving. I know Moore threw King and Barnidge’s way a few times but Rosario was the only one who recorded a catch. I’m expecting them to do more this week if we’re going to have any success through the air. Also, I’m not sure if LaFell or Jarrett is starting at #2 WR but I want more production out of both. Granted, Jarrett showed signs of promise last week. At least that’s something to build off of.

Prediction:
It’s a tough one to predict because I’m only gauging this from one week of football but I think the Panthers can win this game. I know McCoy and Price are good but they’re still rookies and the Browns ran the ball well against them last week. Williams and Stewart will likely have a better game on the ground this week and hopefully that will open up some opportunities for Moore to deliver through the air. The Bucs o-line isn’t as good at pass blocking either which means our front 4 can make things a lot more difficult for Josh Freeman and force him to turn the ball over. It’s up to the offense to actually capitalize on those mistakes, though.

Panthers 21 Bucs 17

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