Chargers Versus Panthers Preview With Carolina Reporter Schuyler Callihan
The Carolina Panthers (0-2) have struggled so far this season but they look to upset the Chargers (1-1) at SoFi Stadium this Sunday.
The Chargers know that just because running back Christian McCaffrey is out with an injury, they know quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and the offense is still dangerous.
I spoke to Panthers reporter Schuyler Callihan to get the full Carolina breakdown.
1. How does the offense now change without running back Christian McCaffrey?
The offensive itself should for the most part, remain the same. Running back Mike Davis isn't as explosive as Christian McCaffrey but can be a factor in both the run and passing game such as McCaffrey. He caught eight passes for 74 yards with six of those coming in the fourth quarter. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady likes to get creative and with McCaffrey out, we may see wide receiver Curtis Samuel get involved in the ground game from time to time. Brady loves this group of wide receivers and will continue to try and push the ball down the field as long as Teddy Bridgewater has time in the pocket to take shots down the field.
2. How have you felt like Teddy Bridgewater has played so far in the first two games of the season?
Teddy Bridgewater was rock solid in the season opener vs the Raiders but was quite the opposite last week vs the Buccaneers. He didn't take good care of the football, throwing two interceptions and coughed up a fumble as well. He has to clean up the turnovers, but I don't see it being a week after week issue. Tampa's defense presented a lot of issues and just got the best of him. He looks comfortable throwing the ball over the middle of the field and on underneath routes, but still has some room for improvement in the home run balls.
3. Why has the defense not been able to stop running backs from getting into the endzone?
The biggest problem with the Panthers' defense is the lack of push they get up front. Rookie Derrick Brown has probably been the most consistent, but he is still not playing at the highest level that he can. Having veteran Kawann Short (foot) out last week definitely showed, but even in week one he didn't play all that well. Linebackers Shaq Thompson and Tahir Whitehead have to be better in run support and crash down faster. Oftentimes, the defensive line is getting shoved around with ease and the opposing offensive line is able to get to the second level of the defense very quickly.
4. How have you felt like the offensive line has held up so far this season?
The offensive line has a ways to go, to say the least. The two tackles, Russell Okung and Taylor Moton, have played well but the interior of the line has had some breakdowns. Last week vs Tampa Bay, Teddy Bridgewater was under constant duress and it really impacted many of his throws. The pocket is collapsing too quickly and isn't allowing enough time for things to develop down the field. This was the biggest concern heading into the season and now, we're seeing why. Joey Bosa could have a field day if the Panthers don't key in on him.
5. What do the Panthers need to do if they are to beat the Chargers on Sunday?
For Carolina to secure their first win of the season, they need to get back to playing clean, fundamental football. There were too many costly penalties a week ago that put the Panthers defense in a bad spot. Four turnovers and a turnover on downs is not going to win you many games either, so as long as drives end in a score or a punt, it's a win. Defensively, they have to generate some form of a pass rush and get to Justin Herbert early and often. Through the first two weeks of the season, the Panthers have zero sacks. Defensive coordinator Phil Snow is going to have to be aggressive in this game and try to get the young quarterback confused and overwhelmed.