The New York Giants desperately need a win. Fortunately for them, they're facing a very beatable opponent in the Carolina Panthers, a team that has lost its last three in a row. Unfortunately for the Giants, the Panthers plan to attack them where they're at their weakest, which is in the run game.
Can the Giants stop the bleeding this week? All Panthers team publisher Schuyler Callihan took a few minutes to answer five burning questions about the Carolina Panthers and where the Giants could stand to gain the competitive edge.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule mentioned that he wants to see the offense lean more heavily on the run game this weekend. How do you envision that running game taking place with CMC out—lead back, zone or gap, etc.?
Chuba Hubbard will run the show for the Panthers in place of Christian McCaffrey. He runs the ball well in between the tackles but can bounce it outside if needed. He's someone that I would describe as a finesse downhill runner.
If he continues to push out the production over the next couple of weeks, he will have cemented himself a role in the offense even when McCaffrey returns.
How concerned are you with the state of the Panthers’ offensive line?
The offensive line is a major issue. They've played a little better the last couple of games, but it could be an area that holds this offense back, leading them to be left out of the playoffs. Sam Darnold hasn't responded well to pressure in his face and has either turned the ball over in those situations or forced some questionable passes into some tight windows.
It doesn't seem like this is an issue that they will fix until the offseason. There have been some rumors floating around that they may be interested in trading for Cam Robinson or Mitchell Schwartz, but the Panthers have to prove they are ready to win now before GM Scott Fitterer makes another move.
What do you think has contributed to the Panthers’ three-game losing streak after a 3-0 start?
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Turnovers and stopping the run. The Panthers turned the ball over twice in their three wins but have turned it over eight times in their three losses. Sam Darnold has to do a much better job of taking care of the football to eliminate situations where his defense has to continue to bail him out time after time.
Last week, Darnold forced a ball to the long side of the field to Robby Anderson on the very first play of the game--it was intercepted. Defensively, this hasn't been the same unit since linebacker Shaq Thompson went out with a foot injury.
He is the defense's leader and plays such a big part in calling plays, communicating, and ensuring everyone is lined up correctly. Since he's been sidelined, there have been communication issues in all three levels of the defense.
Who are the X-factors on both sides of the ball no one is talking about?
Rookie cornerback Keith Taylor Jr. has stepped up and played exceptionally well. All of the attention was on fellow rookie corner Jaycee Horn until he broke his foot. Taylor saw minimal action early on but has since leapfrogged recently acquired C.J. Henderson on the depth chart.
I would have to lean with rookie tight end Tommy Tremble on the other side of the ball. Tremble is someone this coaching staff is extremely high, which is why they were comfortable trading away Dan Arnold to get C.J. Henderson.
Head coach Matt Rhule called him the offensive version of Jeremy Chinn in that he is so versatile and can lineup at many different positions. They'll run him on jet sweeps, run routes at tight end, and at times could be spotted at fullback.
Where is the strength of the Panthers’ defense?
The secondary is by far the strongest and deepest unit on the Panthers' defense. Donte Jackson is finally healthy and playing at a high level in his contract year. A.J. Bouye has proven to be a quality free agent signing, Stephon Gilmore is expected to make his debut this Sunday, and C.J. Henderson is coming along. Not to mention the rookies Jaycee Horn (on IR) and Keith Taylor Jr.
Once this position group is fully healthy, one could argue that it is the best cornerback group in the entire league.
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