Behind Enemy Lines: Five Questions Answered By All Panthers Editor Schuyler Callihan
The New York Giants are in desperate need of a win. Luckily for them, they face a very beatable opponent in the Carolina Panthers, a team that has lost its last three games in a row. Unfortunately for the Giants, the Panthers plan to attack them where they are weakest, which is in the racing game.
Can the Giants stop the bleeding this week? All Panthers editor Schuyler Callihan took a few minutes to answer five burning questions about the Carolina Panthers and where the Giants could stand to gain a competitive advantage.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule has mentioned that he wants the offense to rely more on the running game this weekend. How do you see the running game going without CMC: return, zone or gap, etc. ?
Chuba Hubbard will direct the show for the Panthers in place of Christian McCaffrey. He passes the ball well between tackles but can bounce it outside if necessary. He is someone I would describe as a downhill runner with finesse.
If he continues to push back production over the next two weeks, he will have cemented himself a role in the offense even when McCaffrey returns.
How concerned are you about the state of the Panthers offensive line?
The offensive line is a major issue. They have played a little better in the last couple of games, but that could be one area holding that attack back, leading them to be excluded from the playoffs. Sam Darnold didn’t react well to the pressure on his face and either returned the ball in these situations or forced questionable passes through narrow windows.
It doesn’t look like this is an issue they’ll be fixing until the offseason. There have been rumors that they might be interested in trading for Cam Robinson or Mitchell Schwartz, but the Panthers have to prove they’re ready to win now before general manager Scott Fitterer makes another move.
What do you think contributed to the Panthers’ three-game losing streak after a 3-0 start?
Turnover and stop of the race. The Panthers have returned the ball twice in their three wins, but returned it eight times in their three losses. Sam Darnold needs to do a much better job taking care of football to eliminate situations where his defense has to keep bailing him out time and time again.
Last week Darnold forced a ball from the long side of the pitch to Robby Anderson in the very first game of the game – he was intercepted. Defensively, it’s not the same unit since linebacker Shaq Thompson injured his foot.
He is the leader of defense and plays such an important role in calling the games, communicating, and ensuring everyone is properly lined up. Since he was sidelined, there have been communication issues at all three levels of defense.
What are the X factors on both sides of the ball that no one is talking about?
Rookie cornerback Keith Taylor Jr. stepped up and played exceptionally well. All the attention was on the corner of rookies Jaycee Horn until he broke his foot. Taylor saw minimal action early on, but has since passed the recently acquired CJ Henderson on the depth chart.
I should lean on rookie tight end Tommy Tremble on the other side of the ball. Tremble is someone that this coaching staff is extremely high, which is why they were comfortable swapping Dan Arnold for CJ Henderson.
Head coach Matt Rhule called him the offensive version of Jeremy Chinn in that he’s so versatile and can line up for so many different positions. They’ll steer it on jet sweeps, run tight routes, and could occasionally be spotted in the back.
Where is the strength of the Panthers’ defense?
The secondary is by far the strongest and deepest unit in the Panthers defense. Donte Jackson is finally healthy and playing at a high level during his contract year. AJ Bouye has proven to be a quality free agent, Stephon Gilmore is set to make his debut this Sunday, and CJ Henderson is arriving. Not to mention rookies Jaycee Horn (on IR) and Keith Taylor Jr.
Once this group of positions is in full health, you could argue that they are the best group of cornerbacks in the entire league.
More from Giants Country
Join the Giants Country community
Become a premium member of Fan Nation and get access to all Premium content from Fan Nation plus a Sports Illustrated subscription! Click here for more information or to start your 30-day free trial.