Panthers worth watching – Sports writers, experts, Monday morning QBs mostly agree

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What the Buccaneers will be expecting from Christian McCaffrey Thursday.

In what winds up the same short week for bloggers of NFL football as everyone else, and to bring balance to what happened in the Panthers 30-27 loss to the LA Rams, “Winning cures a lot of that,” is the attitude pointed towards Thursday night against Tampa Bay.

Starting with the most obvious thought: Noowwwww how are you liking those ten pounds of new, useful, and still 4.4 fast, muscles McCaffrey is sporting?  Watching replays, and what plenty of game stats seem to show, is numerous factors WILL win a bunch of ball games for the Panthers this year. Still,  his working through tackles for 23, 18 yard gains on that last nine-play, 69 yard drive? That’s Big Boy stuff.

As important as C-Mac proved to be  last year, Panther fans anticipate cheering their faces off for him after this first effort – that *was* supposed to be a pretty good Rams defense. Based on production,  that offensive line should be feeling positive – the difference between the Rams and Panthers offense (349-343) was a half-dozen yards.

19 carries, 128 yards, two TDs, plus ten catches for 81 yards for C-Mac.

Why do I get a vision of Cap’n America, with the dukes up, that “I can go like this all day” line just a statement of fact?

Two bigger questions about the season, defense and lacking Graham Gano’s crucial field goal kicking, were answered adequately. Although the Rams did dominate ball time by seven-plus minutes, holding Todd Gurley to a 14 carries, 97 yards and no TD day should be considered holding a stud runner in check. Both teams had three rushing TDs.

Rams quarterback Jared Goff was a mild 23/38 for 186 yards, one each on TD-INTs, so this was not a high-powered trampling. Yes, the difference seemed to be specific Panther let downs, but not defensive inadequacies. Shaq Thompson and Tre Boston both had 7 solo tackles, Shaq’s mobility in the 3-4 defense being the first dividend Panthers were expecting.

The Panthers Joe Slye hit two-of-three field goal attempts, including a 52-yarder, and while its only one game, yay! for Gano’s replacement. Kickers can lose at least as many games as they win, just ask last years kicker for the Bears how that works out.

Without whining, I might have been “balled out” after gorging on major college games all Labor Day weekend, so I was actually on the Catawba tubing for five hours Sunday, but what I watched on the replay, yes, Newton (25/38 for 239 yards and a pick) has to make “those throws.”

Newton only tried one throw over twenty yards, and I haven’t read or heard anything recently about a supposed new motion. Everyone says there are no physical problems, just “rusty,” which is the alternative to minimal ‘live’ playing during preseason. The interception, when he had Olsen clear and didn’t deliver, was a timing difference that should be clear now.

There were actually a lot of offensive contributions: Olsen, 4/36 yards; Samuel, 3/32; Jarius Wright, 1/14. DJ Moore had an overall  seven catch -76 yard day, but was involved in a pair of miscues – especially a first drive fumble, and a tipped pass that wound up being ruled a lateral – recovered on the Panthers ten.

Tale of two games

One doesn’t have to be a total ‘Homer’ to be positive about the Panthers first effort, and  there’s no need to overthink the loss on this short week, just be glad it’s the Bucs on Thursday. They were rawhided by San Fran 31-7, with Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston a pedestrian 20/36, 194 yards with three interceptions – two of which were returned for touchdowns – three sacks, and an overall 8.6 QBR.

There’s an old, obvious cliché about not beating good teams – especially when you make a number of turnovers in crucial situations – and in any year not following last season, this would be the godsend for a short week. Twelve years with no playoffs for the Buccaneers is not a coincidence.

The wheels would have to come off (like in Miami, where the Dolphins were humiliated 59-10 by the Ravens) for the Panthers to be 0-2 on Friday morning. We’d all like to see Newton throw a 55-yard rainbow or a touch pass in the red zone, McCaffrey – just keep telling people its all about the O-line…

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