Jets opposition preview: Carolina Panthers
The 2021 season kicks off with the Jets on the road as an underdog to face a Carolina Panthers team with several familiar faces.
The most familiar face of all is Sam Darnold, who is motivated to make the Jets regret their decision to ditch him during the offseason. Darnold’s progress appeared to be stalling last year and the Panthers coaching staff are hoping to unleash his potential by improving his technique and preparation habits.
Athletic replacement PJ Walker, who the Panthers signed after impressing in the XFL, started a game last year; a 20-0 victory over the Lions.
The Panthers’ offensive line is built around center Matt Paradis and right tackle Taylor Moton, who both started every game in 2019 and 2020. However, the rest of the line is a bit uneven.
They will be without a starting guardian as John Miller is on the Covid-19 reserve list. Dennis Daley, who has been a utility player, replacing in guard and tackle for the past several years, will start in his place. He’s probably better on the inside.
They also signed Pat Elflein who was with the Jets at the end of last season to play left guard. Elflein, who entered the starting lineup when Alex Lewis entered the non-football injury roster, hasn’t been particularly impressive with the Jets.
The left tackle is journeyman Cam Erving who was another offseason pickup who generally struggled in the racing game but probably had his most consistent season so far last year.
One of Carolina’s reservists, Trent Scott, started four games for them last season, but the rest of their bench lack experience with inexperienced Sam Tecklenberg activated to add depth to a bench that also includes rookies Brady Christiansen and Deonte Brown.
They addressed their inexperience on the bench by claiming Michael Jordan when he was released by the Bengals in the final cup. Jordan was a former fourth-round pick and started 19 games in his first two years.
Key to the Panthers’ offense is Christian McCaffrey, but he only played three games last year due to injury. Now that he’s healthy again, Carolina can rely on him to produce as a rusher and in the passing game.
McCaffrey had 97 yards on just nine touchdowns when the Panthers beat the Jets in their last meeting in 2017. Other than Moton, he’s the only offensive player left of this game and he’s the only player in the current roster. to have represented the Panthers in the pro bowl.
Mike Davis led the team to the race with McCaffrey last year, but he left and the Panthers completed their rotation by drafting Chuba Hubbard in the fourth round and claiming a former third-round pick; Royce Freeman of Denver.
Giovanni Ricci, who spent the 2020 season on the training squad, was part of the roster as a full-back.
Darnold reunited with Robby Anderson when he moved to the Panthers, which is ironic as Darnold’s inconsistent precision was widely seen as one of the main things that kept Anderson from reaching his full potential. However, the main thing that unlocked him was that the Panthers used him smarter than the Jets, using his underrated road running and yards after capture ability.
Anderson was in the NFL’s top 10 for receptions and recorded the first thousand-yard season of his career, but DJ Moore led the team with nearly 1,200 yards. Moore also finished third in the NFL averaging 18.1 yards per catch.
The Panthers have lost Curtis Samuel in free play and the rest of their receivers lack experience as two rookies – second round pick Terrace Marshall and sixth round Shi Smith – join former CFL player Brandon Zylstra to complete the rotation. Smith has a shoulder injury anyway, but the Panthers have already announced plans to raise former Bengals wide receiver Alex Erickson from the practice squad.
On the tight end, new addition Dan Arnold – who caught a career-high 31 assists, including four touchdowns, in Arizona last year – has been a favorite target for Darnold in practice.
Off the bench Ian Thomas is a reliable possession option, rookie Tommy Tremble brings blocking ability and pass-catching potential and Colin Thompson rounds out this group.
The Panthers’ pass rush is led by former first-round pick Brian Burns, who had nine sacks and 21 hits last season, but they also added versatile Haason Reddick, who had 12.5 sacks. in Arizona last year, including five against the Giants. Reddick will likely come off the rim most of the time, although he’s listed as a linebacker in basic defense 4-3 on the team’s official depth chart.
Former Rams defensive end Morgan Fox is listed as the other starting winger, with Darryl Johnson also being signed by the Bills to add depth. Reservists Marquis Haynes and Yetur Gross-Matos are hoping to produce well on the bench as they did last year when they combined for 6.5 sacks.
Indoors, last year’s first-round pick Derrick Brown had a good production in terms of pressure and recorded eight tackles for losses, but he’s also jumped offside six times. Veteran DaQuan Jones was brought in from Tennessee to start alongside Brown.
Bravvion Roy started nine games in his rookie year, but struggled to resist the run, so the Panthers are hoping he will respond better in a rotating role. They added two end-of-round picks in this year’s draft – Daviyon Nixon and Phil Hoskins – for depth.
Shaq Thompson is a Panthers defensive leader and their longest-serving defensive player. In 2020, he racked up 114 tackles, six tackles for a loss and five assists defended.
Jermaine Carter is in a full-time starting position after starting seven games last year. As noted, Reddick is also listed as a starting linebacker.
Their bench includes Clay Johnston and two ex-Jets; Frankie Luvu and Julian Stanford. Stanford is primarily a member of the special team, while Luvu – who can also play on the rim – has apparently had an impressive preseason to be part of the squad.
This year, the Panthers used their first-round pick against Jaycee Horn of South Carolina, who will start for the team as cornerback. Horn faced Elijah Moore last season, with the Jets rookie making a few key plays against him.
The other starter is Donte Jackson who has become a solid cornerback. He broke 11 passes and intercepted three last season. The rest of the team combined for just four interceptions all year.
Stanley Thomas-Oliver and fifth-round rookie Keith Taylor provide depth of cornerback off the bench. Troy Pride started eight games last year but is part of the injured reserve with a knee injury. He struggled in 2020 anyway, which is part of the reason they drafted Horn. They also added veteran AJ Bouye, who is expected to play in the slot machine but is suspended to start the year.
In the 2020 Draft, the Panthers controversially used all seven picks on defensive players, but six of the seven remain with the squad, including starting safety Jeremy Chinn who racked up 117 tackles last season and scored. two affected. However, he had a team-high 18 missed tackles and allowed six touchdowns in coverage, making him a mixed sack.
Former Jets cornerback Juston Burris converted to safety with the Browns and established himself as a reliable starter. He will start for the Panthers for the second year in a row.
Last year, the Panthers used a lot of personal three-pack security with Chinn going into the box. In such packages, Myles Hartsfield is an option to be completed as a third security or in the slot. Sam Franklin, who started four games last year, and Sean Chandler add depth.
The Panthers met their need for a kicker when they traded to Ryan Santoso in preseason and he beat struggling Joey Slye to win the job. Santoso has yet to attempt to score in a regular season game.
Bettor Joseph Charlton posted average numbers last year but only had three touchbacks.
Erickson’s elevation from the practice squad will see him return punters, which he has done regularly with the Bengals. Moore had been listed as the punt returner on the team’s current depth chart. On kickoffs, Hubbard is listed as the returning man.
In kicking coverage, the Panthers foregone a punt return for a touchdown last season and three in 2019, and they lost one of their best cover guys when they cut Trenton Cannon. . Hartsfield is now their main gunner while Carter, Stanford and Franklin are also special team contributors.