Panthers writer believes Buccaneers game could be closer than people think
Though the game won’t have any fans in attendance, there will still be thousands of members of the Buccaneers faithful who will be tuning in to watch Tom Brady‘s home debut.
As we continue to prepare for the home-opener, we reached out to our friends over at Cat Crave to ask them some questions about the Panthers and what to expect from their perspective heading into the game. Here’s what Site Expert Dean Jones had to say about the match-up with the Buccaneers, including his prediction.
Q1. The Panthers and Bucs got off to slow starts. What did you learn from the Week 1 loss to the Raiders?
Jones: I think there was plenty of things that the Panthers will take away from Week 1. The biggest positive was probably the offense and the way they were able to move the more consistently with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center.
It took a while for the penny to drop regarding how influential Christian McCaffrey is for the new coaching staff. His touches were minimal in the first half before carrying the load after the break, so expect this to be the trend going forward.
I wouldn’t say it was something we learned, but the defensive frailties were as advertised in certain areas. The linebacker corps did struggle somewhat in Carolina’s first game since Luke Kuechly retired and the cornerback unit suffered a big blow with Donte Jackson going out in the first quarter.
This is going to be a steep learning curve for a young group, which comes as no surprise to anybody.
Q2. How has Teddy Bridgewater performed in your estimation and what areas do he need to improve?
I think Teddy Bridgewater performed well in his first game for the Panthers. He got the chains moving early to score on his first three drives. But the coaching staff opted to run the ball heavily in the fourth quarter that lessened his overall influence on proceedings.
There was a lot to like about Bridgewater’s ability to cope with being a starter once again. He got plenty of time to go through his pre-snap reads thanks to a much-improved display from the Panthers’ offensive line, which helped considerably.
His ability to read a defense before the snap was another big plus. Bridgewater showcased his accuracy on almost every throw, but I don’t suppose it helped Carolina’s fanbase seeing former signal-caller Cam Newton lighting it up on his New England Patriots debut.
Timing with his receivers was an issue at times against the Raiders. But given there was no preseason games this year, this is something that should come with more time on the field.
Q3. What are the areas of concern and which areas do you feel most confident about the Panthers being able to exploit against the Bucs?
This might end up being a shootout if the Panthers want to stand any chance of winning the game. They have some prolific weapons at wide receiver and a running back in Christian McCaffrey who commands significant attention on every down.
If they can take advantage of the secondary, it is going to their chances the world of good. The Panthers can hurt you in so many ways and it will be interesting to see how the Bucs’ defense copes in that sense.
The Panthers need to get pressure on Tom Brady. This was an area that generated nothing against a formidable Raiders’ offensive line. But they might have more luck against the Bucs, who looked suspect in protection against New Orleans.
Q4. How are Panthers fans viewing this season? Many are talking about ‘Tanking for Trevor Lawrence’ while others seem still excited about the current product. What is viewed as ‘success’ in 2020 for Carolina?
It’s a hard one as so many changes have been made across the board. The Trevor Lawrence things is a moot point for me as I would be very surprised if Carolina was selecting No. 1 overall, which is where the Clemson standout will be taken.
Getting a winning record might be pushing it a bit. But if the Panthers’ offense can continue to improve and their defense does its part then they could still surprise a few during the first year of their rebuild.
Q5. What’s your prediction for the game?
It is going to be a tough challenge for the Panthers to get anything out of this one. The Bucs are loaded on offense and I feel this might make the difference given the lack of quality options available at cornerback if Jackson is unable to go.
Scoring 30 points in a defeat might be a common theme for the Panthers this season unless their defensive players step up. It might be a lot closer than people think. But I’d probably still go 28-21 to the Bucs on this occasion.
We at The Pewter Plank would like to thank Dean Jones for his time and if you’re looking for the best coverage of the Carolina Panthers on the web, please check out Cat Crave for complete breakdowns, analysis and updates of everything Panthers related.