The Carolina Panthers are in many ways a similar team to the New York Giants. They’re trying to turn things around after four straight losing seasons, while the Giants have had five.
A major difference is that the Giants have a new coach in Brian Daboll, while Carolina has a third-year coach in the hot seat in Matt Rhule. Let’s learn more about the Panthers through our “5 Questions” segment with Cat Scratch Reader’s Walker Clement.
Ed: Losing on a field goal from 58 yards is tough. What is your overall feeling about the quality or poor quality of this Carolina team?
Walker: It’s really impossible to say. A new QB under center and an offseason of optimism brought the team back at least in the short term. The players had clearly given up on what became a 5-12 season last year amid poor leadership and a relentless stream of quarterback injuries. So it’s something.
Last week’s abysmal defense against the Browns leading to a game against the reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week in running back Saquon Barkley is something else entirely. We already have fans wondering if owner David Tepper would fire current head coach Matt Rhule after an 0-3 or 0-4 start if that gives you any indication of where the fan base is.
My opinion is that this is one of the most talented rosters the Carolina Panthers have fielded in years. They are strong in positions of traditional weakness for them – secondary, wide receiver, possibly offensive tackle – and yet the long string of losing seasons at this point has weighed on our ability, as fans, to believe that success is possible. . I think the difference between an inspiring season and another losing one is going to be leadership. It comes down to what Rhule, offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and defensive coordinator Phil Snow can get out of these guys. These Panthers can be dangerous for successful teams. I think they can even be a successful team in their own right. That said, I wouldn’t, even with someone else’s money, place a bet right now that depended on him winning a specific game on his schedule this season.
Ed: What do you think of Baker Mayfield as QB for the Panthers? Is this a guy you’d like to see be around for a while?
Walker: It’s a tough question so early. So far, yes. He has a combination of moxy and touch on his deep passes that I’ve always liked as a fan. But these are small things for the magnitude of the effect they can have on the game. every play. I don’t know Mayfield well enough as a quarterback to say he can be that guy too. The details guy, the consistent guy. His reputation might suggest not, but I’ll let him prove it here before passing judgment.
Ed: Is Matt Rhule the Panthers coach beyond this season?
Walker: I believe this team will be better equipped to compete in the NFL when Rhule is a successful college football coach. Tepper made it clear that he would give Rhule every chance to prove me wrong in that belief. The common defense — or hope, really — to give him at least three seasons is that his college programs have shown remarkable turnarounds in the third year of his tenure. Often, these programs went from single-win seasons to double-digit seasons during this period. What is ignored in this explanation is that there was also a marked improvement between the first and second year. Personally, I don’t consider going from 5-11 in year one to 5-12 in year two as an improvement. Then again, I was never praised for my mathematical prowess.
Ed: If you could take one player off the Giants roster and put him on the Carolina roster, who would it be? Why?
Walker: If he was healthy, the answer would be Kayvon Thibodeaux. The Panthers are lacking in top talent in their first seven and the Browns have hinted to us that such a lack could be a problem for the Panthers hoping to win football games.
However, as the Giants roster stands, the answer has to be Barkley. It’s not that the Panthers lack talent at the RB position, they’re actually pretty stacked compared to much of the league. It’s more that Christian McCaffrey hasn’t been the most reliable available in a minute and the Panthers have struggled with multiple coaching teams to field an effective offense that isn’t built around a ground return . The obvious solution is to have two top full-backs, one for each half of the season. This may sound like a joke, but I’m really not kidding. We have several years of anecdotal data behind this theory. The Panthers have a clear skid pattern and I’m just trying to help them learn how to navigate it.
Ed: The Giants are 2.5 point favorites. Who wins? Why?
Walker: The Giants, more than home advantage / field goal margin. If my overflowing optimism above didn’t tell you, I can’t predict a win for the Panthers until I see more than one happen. It would also help if they looked like they were on purpose.
The thing is, the Giants are built to take advantage of the Panthers’ weakness in run defense. This already suggests a long day. Match that with attacking, defensive and special teams units still trying to put themselves under a coaching staff with an eye on their next gig this season? Well, the only eternal springs that our hope has known for a while are the leaks that started springing up when the last administration toppled our franchise quarterback.